I am writing this post as I am in the middle of unpacking from my move out to Philadelphia to work for one of the top SEM agencies in the country, SEER Interactive. It is still a bit surreal and I find myself reflecting back to see how I got to this point only after graduating couple of years ago from BYU-Idaho and started a job in a completing different field.
I have learned a lot on what it takes to discover and go after my dream job and I’d like to share to help those who are still looking.
Find What You Love
Passion is the key, the secret, the special sauce to becoming successful and finding your dream career! If you are not passionate about what you do it doesn’t take long for you to become unhappy, burnt out, and move onto the next job.
People who are passionate about their work do not dread going into work every morning and even enjoying doing it in their spare time. It’s hard to discover a job that you can be passionate about, won’t grow tired of, and can still pay the bills.
My friend Melissa Joy (Former Editor for StudentBranding.com) gave a great presentation on how to discover and live your passion at Hamilton College. If you are still trying to find your passion, this is a great video to help you do that. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing what you love and are passionate about. We are talking about the rest of your life here!
The Nitty Gritty Of How To Network
The rest of this post is about DOING. So if you are expecting not to do anything after reading this you can stop now and I wish you luck on your career.
You’re still here? Great, lets get started!
Today is the age of ”if you want a job with us please apply online”. This hands off approach makes it very difficult for you to stand out from the thousands of other online resumes. So why are you going to get the job? Because you’ve already networked with the president of the company! I wish I could give you some cool computer hack to have your application show up on top of all your favorite companies radars but I don’t have one, and it would not be nearly as fun as real networking! Like I said the rest of this post will be about DOING, and networking takes work and is a necessity in business especially when you are job hunting.
Again it really helps when you are doing what you are passionate about, it will make it easier for you to connect with industry leaders. Why? Because its hard to be the best at something you hate! Industries leaders emerge because they love what they do, and if it is something you are passionate about it makes it much easier to connect with them.
So in the words of the wise Nacho Libre “Lets get down to the nitty gritty”. Here are some of the tactics that I have personally used to connect, talk with, and interview some of the top SEO experts in the country!
Required Networking Skills
Asking The Right Questions
I’ve learned that asking the right questions is one of the most important parts of networking. One of the best ways to sabotage a good networking opportunity is to ask a bad question. To help train you in asking appropriate questions this video by networking masterminds Tim Ferriss (Author of the 4 hour work week) and Ramit Sethi ( Author of I will teach you to be rich) explain how to meet and talk with big names like Oprah.
My Main Highlights From The Video
- Do your homework before you meet or contact them.
- Establish your network before you need it!!! Don’t try to push something on them the 1st time you meet.
- Be specific! In asking questions or requesting help.
Offer To Help
People are always busy with their own problems and don’t have enough time to talk to you. That is unless you are part of the solution to lighten their load. Following people on social networks like Twitter or Google+ you’ll often find that people asking for help. Pro actively helping others opens doors for conversation and to connect in real life.
Case Studies: How helping people helps in networking
1) A great example of this is Rand Fishkin (CEO of SEOmoz) who frequently asks for help in doing tests. This is a simple and easy way to help him out and can open the lines of communication with him.
2) I’ve also personally used my SEO skills to do site audits for people of interests websites, to look for ways to improve their rankings. This doesn’t work very well in connecting with other SEO’s, but it works great when I want to connect with social media, PPC , or email marketing experts.
Be A Doer
One of the most commonly asked questions is “what do you do?”. Besides your day job it really sets you apart if you have something you do in you spare time to show off. The following are
- Blog -Personal or Professional
- Self Learning – Coding, Link building, or building a site
- Creating – a site, book, or product
Case Studies: How doing helps in networking
1) My brother Dave is a student studying electrical engineering and came to me asking what he should do to get internships. My answer was to make a blog where he posts about what he is learning in his engineering classes. He created his engineering blog and then put links to his blog in key places like on his Linkedin account, email signature, and even on his resume.
When I talked with him the other week he told me that every company that he interviews with has made a comment about his blog. It has proven to be a great way for him to stand out among the other applicants
Find Similar Hobbies
Networking again is finding influential people with similar interests. We are not all one dimensional we all have lots of interests and sometimes those unprofessional interests are the best ways! Music, travel, Star Wars,and sports are just some of the topics that people get really into.
Case Studies: How similar interests create great networking opportunities
1) My friend Blake when he was an intern at Walgreens had the Area Manager calling him to come and play basketball on the weeknights. It was crazy that my friends name and number was on the Area Managers speed dial, right next to the managers of all the stores he managed.
2) My brother Nate Beck, was asked to play on the weekly Halo team with a group of MySpace developers, this was back when MySpace was cool. He to this day still plays video games with several of these top developers who have moved on to other big companies like Adobe.
Always Always Always Thank and Follow Up
No matter what it is, be it a skype interview, meeting for lunch, or just talked to someone at a networking event. Always thank and follow up! You can do it with a email, tweet, or even snail mail. Anytime someone gives you their time be sure to thank them! When you write these thank you notes it is also a great time to follow up. In my industry we usually get onto a topic where we have a question on a SEO strategy and I will make it a point to find an article that will answer the question and then tweet it to them.
Case Studies: How following up helps in networking
1) One of the deciding factors at SEER Interactive to hire me was based on that I sent each of the 3 people that interviewed me personal thank you emails after our interview. The company prides themselves on having the best clients and so the need for the best customer service to take care of those clients. The personal thank you note kept my name in the front of their mind, and showed that I would be able to take good care of their clients.
Where and How to Network
Interviewing The Experts
Now that we’ve learned from Tim and Ramit how to approach and talk to industry leaders it’s time to DO IT. The best way I’ve found to approach industry experts (especially if you are a student) is to interview them! In fact that is what got me an interview and ultimately the my dream job at SEER Interactive!
What I did is I emailed the top SEO consultants and asked them each 4 questions. What were the questions? They all revolved around what they look for in hiring a SEO ! I was shocked how easy it was to get ahold of and that nearly all of them responded back with answer.
The Perks of Interviewing Experts:
- This opened the lines of communication between me and some of the top experts in my industry
- Experts gave me the answers to their own interview questions
- I had great content to create several articles, one per a question, that was published on a major SEO blog
Taking People To Lunch
This can me a little bit more tricky because there are a lot of weirdos out there that people want to avoid, but if you have a good online presence like a blog, twitter, and linkedin people can get a good sense of who you are before meeting. If you are connecting with them through email at first make sure to include your blog and social networks in your signature.
The Perks of taking people to lunch
- People don’t make time for meetings, but they do to eat
- It’s easy to forget an email, but hard to forget a face
- Opportunity to ask questions to someone else who is an expert in your field
When I first got into SEO I heard about all these huge events like SEOmoz, SMX, SWSW, LinkLove and the list goes on. These are amazing events to learn from the best for networking, but they can do some damage to your wallet. I’ve come to find out that there are so many other networking event opportunities out there.
- Local Networking Event Sites ( Meetup, Event Brite, Tweetups )
- Local Industry Groups ( Ad2 Tucson, SLCSEM )
- Linkedin Groups (Local / National)
Perks of going to Networking Events
- Best bang for your buck to network with lots of people
- People are there to network
- In the sessions you get the latest industry tips and strategies
Build Your Online Brand Through Social Networks
Perks of Social Networks for Networking
- Find how they like to communicate on and offline
- Look for opportunities to connect with them.
- I got to interview Jay Baer because he posted a tweet of an interview he did with someone, in which I responded “How do I get a 15 minute interview with you?” We exchanged emails and I got to talk with him for almost an hour!
Resources I Wish I Knew About In College
- Ramit Sethi Dream Job Kit (Free) – Great advise on finding your passion and getting a great job
- Personal Branding Blog & Student Branding Blog
- Linkedin Account (Free) – It’s the only thing I use for my resume and allows me to connect with almost anyone in my industry.
- Rapportive for Gmail (Free) – Gives you rich content on the contact you are emailing.
- Boomerang for Gmail (Free) – Schedule emails or set up fast email reminders.