How do you feel when a business contact you have not heard from in ages gets back in touch and asks: “Can we meet up for a coffee?” I always think: What do they want? Why are they getting in touch? And when you do ask, how many times do you get no response? Or at best something like “I am crazy busy at the moment, let’s meet up soon” – which should perhaps be known as “the ambiguous brush-off”.
It’s tricky, because it is often our connections who can best help us secure a new role… and how we approach them can make the all the difference. We need to stop asking them out for coffee and instead get specific and ask for advice. It is this simple:
“Hi, I am looking to move jobs/am keen to change industries/have just been made redundant and I wanted to ask your advice about what I should do. Do you have time for a conversation?”
This works well because:
- The person you are approaching feels valued. We all like to be asked for advice; to give our opinion and feel useful.
- It is their decision what they choose to offer, which is better than putting them on the spot.
- You are being transparent and up front. Immediately you are more likely to get assistance.
- It is a conversation rather than “coffee”. Coffee requires more commitment and time. When I am really busy, meeting up in person is difficult – but if you are transparent with me about what it is you need, I will always make time to talk on the phone.
After the advice, always follow up. If they have connected you with someone else, keep them informed of the progress. Let the person know what you did. The advice approach is a cornerstone of helping to secure a great new job.
And if you have any questions about securing a new role then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenny Williams, Career Coach