Jim Smith SPHR, recently addressed the Jacksonville SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) organization. Smith is an executive and life coach, international speaker, author, and change strategist. His workshop was titled “Your Title May Be Human Resources, But Trust Me: You’re in Marketing!” He gave excellent advice to HR professionals on the distinction between – and importance of – Marketing, Sales, and Brand Management. His words reminded me that job seekers face the same branding challenge.
Smith starts out by defining sales as solving a client’s problem. It’s a transaction, which means that the customer has taken action, has purchased your solution. If you’re a job candidate, it means you got the job – your services have been purchased to solve the employer’s problem.
Now the important part: how do you get to the point of sale? That’s where marketing comes in – the pre-sale phase of the relationship. Jim Smith says that the purpose of marketing is to get your customer to know, like and trust you. So when they have a problem to solve, it’s you they will turn to for a solution.
The sales cycle is very much like the hiring cycle. Building knowledge, liking and trust are the goals you should set for your interactions with a potential employer. In fact, they’re the basis of all networking you do.
People gain knowledge of you when you show up. You can show up virtually in social network forums and by connecting on LinkedIn. Attending meetings and events give you a chance to make first connections with people. As with marketing, effective repetition is needed to get to the point where a customer (or potential employer) will begin to feel that they recognize, then eventually, know you. Studies in advertising have indicated that it takes between 6 and 20 repetitions before a consumer takes action on a message. Showing up consistently is important.
Even more important than being consistent is being likeable. Your social skills are as important as your job skills. For me, likeability is comprised of several elements (you can rate yourself on each to see how likeable you might be.)
- Approachability – are you easy to talk to and open to meeting new people?
- Warmth – are you interested in other people? Do you seem to care about people?
- Pleasant – are you a happy person, generally upbeat? Or do you always see the gloomy side of things? Does the mood of the room go up or down when you enter?
- Sincerity – are you genuine in your responses? Am I seeing the real you when we meet?
- Being interesting – do you have interesting things to say? Are you funny, witty, or an expert in your field?
If likeability is an instant, gut reaction, trust is developed over time based on your performance. You have to do more than show up; you must commit to doing useful things and then do them. And do them well. That builds trust on the part of your network, and it becomes an important part of your personal brand. “Doing useful things” doesn’t always mean taking on a leadership role or a huge to-do list. It may just mean that people can rely on you to ask thoughtful questions or bring up good points. You can contribute in many ways. But trust in based on the quantity and quality of your contributions.
So if you’re wondering what is the purpose of networking – it’s the marketing cycle. You may not be interacting with someone who will directly employ you, but you’ll be building a group of people who know, like and trust you and can endorse you to a future employer. Every good salesman will tell you that word of mouth is the best advertising there is.