Advice for GenZ Marketing Job Seekers and Hiring Managers

If you’re looking to hire new graduates, learn who the best candidates are by networking with their college professors. My former partner, Jon Roska, brought the best and the brightest college grads into the agency every year by networking with professors at local universities.

There’s a story I tell to my students about getting their first job.

Former University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin was addressing the graduating class of 2003 and started a litany of the important things the graduates learned during their time at the university:

At Penn you learned this, at Penn you learned that, at Penn you learned this, at Penn you learned that, “but most importantly, at Penn you learned that it is not WHO you know, but rather WHOM you know.”

Grammatically correct, but also valuable advice for job seekers and hiring managers alike.

Advice for Job-Seekers

I encourage students to start their job networking while they’re still in school. Go to industry events. Meet people. Connect with people who can introduce you to prospective opportunities in their own firms, as well as in related companies. Build a strong network on LinkedIn and don’t be shy about using it to get introduced to job opportunities. When jobs become available, hiring managers are more likely to hire someone they already know, or someone who’s been referred by someone they know, rather than a stranger.

Advice for Marketing Team Hiring Managers

This advice applies to hiring managers, as well. If you’re looking to hire new graduates, learn who the best candidates are by networking with their college professors. My former partner, Jon Roska, brought the best and the brightest college grads into the agency every year by networking with professors at local universities. It was a win for everyone: the professors, the students and the agency.

Many colleges hold job fairs for their graduating seniors and invite prospective employers to set up shop and meet their graduating students. These events are a great way for students and managers to meet each other, but tapping into a network of teachers who have gotten to know which students are the best during a 15-week course is an excellent way to screen for the cream of the crop.

It’s all about whom you know.

My LinkedIn Error – Brought to You by a Thumb

Recently, I was on a train when I saw a connection request on LinkedIn from a former colleague of mine initiating a job search. Upon having accepted, LinkedIn sends a confirmation that includes a search and listing of all your email contacts and asks if you want to send out connection requests to them, as well.

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?”

Well in my increasingly cross-screen world, I made a big mistake with my LinkedIn profile thankfully, I was able to undo it.

Recently, I was on a train when I saw a connection request on LinkedIn from a former colleague of mine who is initiating a job search. I accepted her connection request, using my smartphone LinkedIn interface. (I don’t even know if I was in app mode or mobile Web.)

Upon having accepted, LinkedIn (by default) sends you a confirmation page, that includes a search and listing of all your email contacts that match up to LinkedIn profiles elsewhere (and probably many more email addresses that don’t correspond) and asks if you want to send out connection requests to these emails, as well. I hate that “they” do this.

A mistake waiting to happen. I emphatically do not want that to happen.

I don’t know if it was my thumb fumbling on a small screen or some other missed button when I was attempting the close the page, but lo and behold, all these email addresses were then sent a generic connection request.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Just like that. Hundreds of invites sent to people I may only have interacted with  who had found their way into my contacts. Bam, the invites go out. No intervention from LinkedIn asking me to confirm this hefty request.

Just like that. Six years of carefully curating my LinkedIn profile for business-to-business networking and communications with people with whom I am familiar and trust … gone (for the moment).

Needless to say, when I got back to my laptop later I was able to login on a larger screen without issue, and spot how to rescind a sent invitation. By that time, only a few near-strangers had accepted my inadvertent request and I was able to undo nearly 300 others. Whew!

What does LinkedIn gain by having so many tangential contacts of mine so easily added to my network? Well, be assured, I dug deeper into settings to undo any LinkedIn syncing of contacts I had had with my phone and email accounts.

So, more or less, one inadvertent mobile on-the-go mistake was undone. And my business-to-business LinkedIn network is more or less restored. Well, a little less restored.

Do you ever have those digital or mobile moments where a “submit” or “return” or “enter” button just mysteriously sets itself off? Sometimes, a back button or Control Z gets a return to normal without incident.

Wrap it up. When my credit card bill comes for my online Christmas shopping, I’m certain there will be a few more regrettable miscues with my thumb!

I hope they were Happy Holidays for all!

In a Digital Era, Trade Show Interactions Still Matter

In today’s digital-first ecosystem, it’s easy for businesses and their clients to build high-value connections without ever meeting face-to-face, yet many industries continue to present at trade shows. What motivates these efforts?

In today’s digital-first ecosystem, it’s easy for businesses and their clients to build high-value connections without ever meeting face-to-face, yet many industries continue to present at trade shows. What motivates these efforts?

Unlike online marketing and networking, trade shows offer opportunities for businesses to perform recon on their competitors, track industry trends, and build supplier and distributor relationships. From a competitive perspective, then, trade shows are a must-attend event — but that doesn’t mean technology hasn’t changed how these shows operate.

Pre-Show Assessments

Trade shows last a few days, but anyone who’s spent time on the circuit knows that the majority of the work takes place before you arrive.

Businesses need to build pre-show media connections to boost publicity, perform research to determine the best shows to attend, and plan their presentation, from giveaways to booth display. Luckily, technology is helping businesses reduce the costs associated with participating in trade shows, particularly through the use of AI to select shows.

One option is using the program SummitSync. Companies can map past conference and trade show participation against internal CRM data to determine whether attending a given event will be beneficial to them. This allows the company to estimate their ROI on a given conference and only attend those that are the best use of their time and resources.

The B2B Advantage for Trade Shows

Unlike many digital marketing efforts, attendance at trade shows isn’t typically focused on building connections with individual customers. Instead, trade shows lean heavily on the B2B angle, connecting companies with each other and, in the case of manufacturers, providing opportunities for one-on-one interactions with distributors.

Since it’s much harder to target distributors via online marketing campaigns, trade shows are a powerful setting for promotion, negotiation, and product demonstration. Shows also offer companies a chance to solidify previously digital relationships and consolidate brand loyalty.

Certain industries place a special emphasis on trade shows and consider them an essential element in their marketing practices. The specialty foods market, for example, which is projected to control 20% of market share in the next few years, has always relied heavily on trade shows as part of their distribution and sales model.

Using aggressive educational campaigns and an appeal to health, fresh food, and interest in local eating, specialty food brands have long used trade shows to get their products on shelves around the country. Other niche brands can learn a lot from food companies’ practices.

Industries in Transition

Ultimately, trade shows provide valuable insight into changing market trends, and this is the greatest motivation for companies to attend.

At this year’s L.A. Textile Show, brands demonstrated how they’re embracing sustainable fashion, integrating technology and textiles, and centering activism in their work. Though the show isn’t one of the largest yet, the producers are focused on becoming a must-attend show for the industry. That means promoting the show online, demonstrating the quality of past events, and encouraging attendees to act as boosters, advertising their planned attendance at the 2019 event.

Business relationships today take place largely online, but it’s time to rethink this kind of digitization. Though online networking can form the foundation for professional connections, email will never replace a handshake and one-on-one demo. That’s where the trade show comes in: to roll data and direct connection into one powerful event.

2 Emails You’re Sending That Rarely Work

Never say never? I try to not speak in absolutes and remain positive. But there are two flavors of cold emails you’re probably sending that do more harm than good.

Never say never? I try to not speak in absolutes and remain positive. But there are two flavors of cold emails you’re probably sending that do more harm than good. These are the cold:

  • “help me find the right person” request;
  • “show me how to sell to you” request.

Not sending these emails? I’ll be surprised if you haven’t sent one in past … or still consider them as valid options.

Beware. They are marks of amateurs.

Asking for a chance to learn about customers’ current pain points or challenges is common … and increasingly fails. Clients are deluged with these requests every day.

It’s not the client’s job to sort a way to sell your thing. Likewise, requesting a meeting in a cold email is too big an ask, too early.

Don’t Know? Find Out!

Let’s say you don’t know the right person to talk with — at your target organization. Fair enough.

Or in cases where you do know the contact, the pain or goal may be unclear. I respect that. But ya gotta find out. No excuses.

Please don’t do this:

Hi {name},

I’m trying to figure out who is in charge of [leading general statement] there at {company}.

Would you mind pointing me towards the right person please, and the best way I might get in touch with them?

Consider tools like LinkedIn, Google and countless others. Your ability to find the right decision-maker(s) is unprecedented. Not to mention innovators like Data.com and old-fashioned (yet, perfectly good) sources like InfoUSA and their like.

“Who’s the best person to get in touch about this?”

You must be kidding. This is NOT going to work for you.

Don’t get pegged as lazy, or worse!

‘Do My Work and Pity Me’

If you’re sending emails hoping someone will do the work for you … that’s pitiful. Especially if you’re starting at the top of an organization, looking to get handed-down. Your cold email signals: “help me do my work.” And that’s pitiful.

You might argue, “Jeff, people like to help people.” They do. I help people when I can. But consider this:

Would you call the CEO or top executive on the phone — looking to get handed down? I’d hope not but maybe you would! In a digital age, cold calling top executives (to discover who to talk to) is not effective. Instead, research the target online.

You may also argue, “Jeff, I do well discovering who decisionmakers are using the phone … by tapping into administrative assistants.”

I’m cool with that. In fact, we might be forced to. Decision-makers are starting to hide or disguise their authority on LinkedIn.

Also, gathering intelligence this way is worthwhile.

However, blasting “can you help direct me?” emails, trying to discover decision-maker names is mostly ineffective. It’s the sign of an unskilled sales person. Avoid it. Don’t encourage clients to pity you.

Let’s say you use email to discover who targets are at mid-management level. This is also a losing proposition. Any idea how many requests for help these people receive each day? More than you might imagine.

Think about your hectic day. If you received three to four messages per day asking for help from sales reps, wouldn’t it get annoying? And it might even get you in trouble. Forwarding people who you don’t know (selling products your colleagues may not need) could cost you embarrassment.

There is often a negative incentive for contacts to help guide you.

Go Direct, Go Informed or Go Home

Let’s say you were face-to-face with a new prospect at a networking event. They’ve identified themselves as the decision-maker. You wouldn’t ask a potential client, “Can I get some time with you … so you can help me understand a way to sell to you?”

5 Things You Should Say ‘Yes’ To

Having just come back from a trade show, I am still reeling from all of the positive vibes, great contacts and inspiration that I experienced. It got me thinking about why people choose not to go to shows. I know that time and money are usually the two biggest considerations when it comes to going to something like this. And I really want you to look at this a different way.

Having just come back from three glorious days in Chicago at PRINT 17 I am still reeling from all of the positive vibes, great contacts and inspiration that I experienced. It got me thinking about why people choose not to go to shows. I know that time and money are usually the two biggest considerations when it comes to going to something like this. So, I wondered what other things people are probably regularly missing out on just because they don’t give themselves the opportunity to do something that would be considered outside the norm (for them).

And I really want you to look at this a different way. I want you to consider yourself personally and your company as something to invest in in ways other than equipment and software. These might seem like luxuries, but I want to argue that they are NOT luxuries. These kinds of things are vital to your development as a member and maybe even a leader – or THE leader — of your team. Saying a loud and enthusiastic YES to these things will make you better, stronger, happier and could just take you places you never thought you would go (literally and figuratively).

Here are 5 things you should say “yes” to, if you get the opportunity:

  1. Going somewhere new — Maybe a vendor has asked you to come and tour their facility. Maybe a networking group you belong to is having a happy hour next Friday at a new place across town. DO IT! Extending yourself out of your comfort zone is good for you. You will meet new people, find out about a service or product you didn’t know was available to you, or try some new kind of food you never knew you’d been missing all your life. New = adventure. New = Good.
  2. Going to a trade show — You might have to fly. You might have to pop for a hotel room. You will have to be off the shop floor for a day or two. You will never see that money or time again. Do it anyway. Being gone is a great time to see what your team is made of in your absence. Being around your peers, competitors, vendors and industry heroes is good for you. I shouldn’t have to explain why. This is your industry and you should be an active participant in it.
  3. Learning something — Whether it is how to start a Facebook page for your company or being able to explain the fundamentals behind direct marketing, if there is something going on in your business that you are not comfortable with, now is the time to raise your hand, say you need help and get to learning. There is no downside here. The more you know is not just an NBC jingle from the 90’s. It is the truth.
  4. A project that makes you A LITTLE uncomfortable — Let’s say a client asks you to do something you’ve never done before. It will not require you to go out and buy new equipment or software, but you have not tried something like it before. Before you say no, think about the implications of being able to add that aspect of your offering to all of your clients. Hearing the dollar signs ringing in yet? It is also empowering to your team to give them some latitude to figure out the best way to do it. Yes. You might lose money on the first one. But on each subsequent project you will get better and better and more profitable. Just say yes.
  5. A new hire that “gets it” — There are at least two whole generations of people who have grown up as technology natives, but who may not look and sound like the kinds of people you typically hire. Talk to them anyway. It is time to start reverse engineering some of the roles within your team. You can look at the person, decide that you admire their energy, vision and manner, and decide that you will find a place for him/her on your team. It may be a title you’ve never had before. You might INVENT a title for him/her. But new blood Is what our industry needs. It’s what YOU need. Fresh perspectives. People who are not afraid to challenge and even defy what you think you know. This industry needs more shaking up. Shake.

I hope I have convinced you that discomfort is the new growth. Change is the new steady. Give it a go.

Say yes.

Trade Shows and Live Events as Content Marketing

You know those folks who are super-organized about the business events they attend? The ones who research the companies who are going to be there, reach out to organize meetings in advance, have a plan for walking the floor, never eat — or even have coffee — alone? Yeah, I hate ‘em, too.

You know those folks who are super-organized about the business events they attend? The ones who research the companies who are going to be there, reach out to organize meetings in advance, have a plan for walking the floor, never eat — or even have coffee — alone? Yeah, I hate ‘em, too.

All kidding aside, even if you aren’t the model of getting the most out of trade shows, webinars and other events, they can be a great part of your content marketing — and your content marketing will help make the events themselves more productive.

One way to do this, of course, is to begin talking about the event on social media in the weeks leading up to it. Mention what it is you’re excited about, whose presentations, what topics you’re looking to explore. Yes, you’ll open yourself up to some unwanted sales pitches. But you’ll also find yourself connecting with like-minded folks who may have insights and experience that could help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

For that matter, talk about it afterwards, too. You can focus on the highlights, what you learned, who you met, and even what you missed. Again, the goal is to do so in a way that encourages interaction with others so you might make additional connections.

On a more one-to-one level, you can use email in a similar way: Ask clients and potential clients if they’re planning on attending. If so, set up a time to chat, even if only briefly. If not, ask if there’s anything of particular interest that you can look into for then.

Once you’re at the event, staying active on social media can be productive, but don’t do it to the exclusion of, you know, actually picking up your head and paying attention to the people around you or the presentation you’re sitting in. That’s the real opportunity.

And it should go without saying that you want to occupy the space between obnoxious and coy. In other words, don’t go rushing from person to person pressing your business card into their palms and immediately moving on. (I’m exaggerating, though not by much …) That’s just not going to get you any traction. Just as your content has to provide value rather than being purely promotional, your personal interactions have to be interesting to your audience. It’s about them, not you.

At the same time, there’s no reason not to be clear and direct about your networking intentions. You’ve gotta give to receive if you want to make networking work, especially at live large events which tend to be somewhat more rushed.

How to Suck Less at Your Personal Pitch

The number one thing people want to talk about is themselves. When you facilitate this, you’ll be remembered because they enjoyed the conversation. Just remember: A good question prompts people to tell a story about themselves, in turn creating a deeper connection.

i am uniqueWhen you meet someone for the first time, the question “What do you do?” inevitably makes its way to the conversation. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of this question. It is not a great question to ask, nor is it fun to answer.

Let’s explore some reasons for why this question is not so great. “What do you do?” implies you are asking what someone does for a living. This makes people define themselves by how they earn a paycheck. What if they are in transition? What if they hate their job?

So you can see how this simple and common question can quickly make someone uncomfortable. Plus, you are not really getting to know that person.

Here are some alternative questions to ask instead:

  1. If you won the lottery what would you do?
  2. What are you passionate about?
  3. What do you like to do?
  4. What is your favorite thing that you own?
  5. How do you spend your days?
  6. What are you most excited about right now?
  7. What are you working on?
  8. What are you most proud of?
  9. What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
  10. What gets you up in the morning?

The number one thing people want to talk about is themselves. When you facilitate this, you’ll be remembered because they enjoyed the conversation. Just remember: A good question prompts people to tell a story about themselves, in turn creating a deeper connection.

Now let’s examine some ways to answer “What do you do?” because you will undoubtedly get that question. Do you say, “I’m a marketing manager” or “I work for ACME Corporation”? My guess is 95 percent of you answer with something along those lines.

Don’t let your work define you. How would you answer that question if you are currently between jobs? You might feel a little deflated when someone asks you that, especially if you haven’t given much thought into what you should answer.

What if you designed a different way of answering that question? What if you told a story? For example, I might answer that question with, “Right now I am really excited to be launching a new product that will help marketers manage their personal brand in only two minutes a day.”

It’s not true, but if that sounded interesting to you, let me know, and I may just start working on that.

To start to tell your story, think about these three things:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. How do you serve them or provide value?
  3. What results are achieved?

Free Dinner and Intelligent Discussion? Sign Me Up!

We all know networking events are either spot on, or well, you get cornered by some dude who wants to tell you his life story. What if I told you Target Marketing was hosting something that’s a solid leap above your typical networking event, pairing an insightful panel discussion from some of the brightest in the industry with a mega-classy happy hour and delicious sit-down dinner?

We all know networking events are either spot on, or well, you get cornered by some dude who wants to tell you his life story.

networking_napdynoWhat if I told you Target Marketing was hosting something that’s a solid leap above your typical networking event, pairing an insightful panel discussion from some of the brightest in the industry with a mega-classy happy hour (trust me, I’ve attended) and delicious sit-down dinner?

You’d start asking me for dates, times, locations … and how much.

Well, if you’re in the world of financial services and insurance, then you’re in luck! On Feb. 7, we’re hosting our first roundtable event of 2017. These exclusive industry events are designed with marketing executives in a specific vertical in mind.

Oh, and they’re free to attend for qualified marketers. Because we’re cool like that.

We understand that when it comes to customer engagement, finserv marketers have access to more pertinent customer data than their counterparts in most businesses, yet also face more regulations on using that data. And when it comes to technology, fintech is exploding; but selecting the right tools and staff to oversee them can be not only overwhelming, but also a source of conflict between marketing and IT.

So what are you waiting for? Click on over and get registered for this VIP event now while we still have seats left. I’ll even be there!

 

How Successful Marketers Advance Their Career Networks

I think you’ll agree with me when I say: It’s REALLY tough to break into the hidden job market if you don’t have a large network. Well, I bet you have a larger network than you think, and it’s easy to grow your network quickly if you take this approach. In today’s article, I am going to show you just how to build your network, and start nurturing it so you can uncover the hidden job market.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say: It’s REALLY tough to break into the hidden job market if you don’t have a large network.

Well, I bet you have a larger network than you think, and it’s easy to grow your network quickly if you take this approach. In today’s article, I am going to show you just how to build your network, and start nurturing it so you can uncover the hidden job market.

How Successful Marketers Build Their Networks

Just like there is the ABC of sales, Always Be Closing, there is the ABC of career management, Always Be Connecting. Notice I say career management and not job search. This is because building your network needs to be a constant activity in your life, not just when you need a new job. The “net” from your network can catch you when you unexpectedly find yourself downsized or otherwise in need. It will take a bit of “work” to get it established.

So, I’d like to give you the key to your first 100 connections. Below is a list of 10 areas to group people you know. I am going to challenge you to fill each area with at least 10 names, and then, boom, you have your first 100 contacts.

  1. Friends
  2. Family
  3. Trade or professional organizations
  4. Service providers – i.e., doctors, hairdresser, dentists, accountants
  5. Managers, past and present
  6. Colleagues
  7. Clubs, organizations, hobbies
  8. Alumni, classes, parents of kids’ friends
  9. Religious affiliations
  10. Customers or clients

Is your network suddenly larger than you originally thought? Good! The truth is you never know who may be that lead to your next opportunity, whether you are actively looking for it or not.

Your Network Funnel

Now that you have a list, you need to segment them as it pertains to ways they can help you land your next opportunity. Here is that breakdown:

  1. Champions – People you know in “real life” who also know, like and trust you. Typically the people you just wrote down in the exercise above.
  2. Prospects – Second or third-degree connections to whom you’ve been introduced by a champion. They are just getting to know you and learning about your career goals.
  3. Sponsors – These are people openly promoting you or advocating the benefit of networking with you to others. Ideally, they are in your target companies and would recommend you.
  4. Activators – These are the people who call you in for an interview. They open a position for you because they have gotten to know you and have a real opportunity.

You can think of these segments as your job search funnel. Obviously, most people will be at the top of your funnel in the Champions area. You can measure the success of your search by seeing how many people you can move from Champions to Prospects to Sponsors to Activators.

Work Your Network

There are two critical ways to effectively work your network. One is to send a networking letter your Champions – people who know, like and trust you. You can send this via email or snail mail; the goal is to simply inform your contacts you’re actively searching and would like their help. It’s not a letter asking for a job. Here is an example (all content has been fictionalized):

An example networking letter.
An example networking letter.

Instead of attaching your resume, I would attach an executive summary. This serves two purposes: First, it is not as formal as a resume, so it reinforces you are not asking for a job. Second, it gives them your best achievements so they can get an idea faster of who might be a good connection for you.

Example Networking Career Summary
An example networking career summary.

Once your Champion says, “Of course, I know just the person you should talk to at your target company.” you can make their job easier if you provide them with an introduction blurb. This is a short note explaining who you are and why they are making the introduction. Then your Champion doesn’t have to do anything except copy and paste your note to their connection. This idea comes from my marketing coach, David Newman. He calls it a referral blurb and teaches it to solopreneurs as a way to get more referrals. With job searches, you’re not looking for referrals, but for more introductions.

Your Job Search Is Like a Marketing Plan

The modern-day job search is not like it used to be. Long gone are the days of applying for jobs online and getting calls for interviews. Depending who you ask, there’s only a 2 to 4 percent response rate for posted positions. Yet, so many people start their job search this way because that is what they know. Essentially, what they are doing is marketing without a plan.

Job SearchA client recently came to me frustrated.  He had been applying for jobs for about a month and was not getting any traction/response. In the past he had never had a problem, and he couldn’t figure out what might be going wrong. From my experience, I know he is not alone in his thinking.

The modern-day job search is not like it used to be. Long gone are the days of applying for jobs online and getting calls for interviews. Depending who you ask, there’s only a 2 to 4 percent response rate for posted positions. Yet, so many people start their job search this way because that is what they know. Essentially, what they are doing is marketing without a plan.

When I first got introduced to direct mail 15-plus years ago, I was told, “Direct mail is like the salesman that lands in your mailbox.” Well, this scared the heck out of me, because I was coming from a graphic design job and knew nothing about sales. Yet, those words always resonate with me whenever I plan marketing campaigns. In job search, it’s really no different. Your LinkedIn profile, resume and cover letter are your sales team. And they are going to help your ideal employer find you.

So, you really need to run your job search like a marketing campaign. Let’s walk through the critical components of a campaign. Then I’ll show you how it translates to job search.

1. The Target = Your Ideal Company and Position
You would never go to market without knowing who your target audience is. So why would you launch a job search without knowing where you want to end up? Everyday I see people launch their job searches by updating their resumes and then blasting them everywhere. In reality, it pays to take the time to figure out where you want to be.

Just like you have buyer personas for your company’s products, you need a company persona for your job search. With your company persona in mind, it will be easier to write your career marketing materials. Answer questions like these when creating your company persona:

  • What industry?
  • What size company (staff and revenue)?
  • Agency or Corporate?
  • B-to-B or B-to-C?
  • What type of culture are you looking for?

Once you have your company persona, start researching companies that fit your description. Find out what their pains are and how you can solve those pains.

If you want to go a step further, write out your ideal job description. It can serve as a guide when you’re wondering if you should apply for a posted position.

  • What title do you want?
  • Who do you want to report to?
  • What type of projects do you want to work on?
  • Do you want to manage or be an individual contributor?

Now, you truly have your target defined. Then instead of searching for a job, you’ll search for companies with specific challenges you know you can solve!