Register For The April 27th LinkedIn Webinar: Powerful Recruiting With The New UI



In the last 9 years, with the help of Kathy Simmons of Experts Connection, I've delivered paid webinar training to over 9,000 recruiters on the topics of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the digital searching. 

These top rated webinars come with a 90 minute session followed by live Q&A, a video download, the slide deck as a PDF, and if you register before April 20th, I'll send you me new LinkedIn UI search guide. 



Book the Webinar!

Cost for the webinar is $125. 

TIME: Thursday, April 27th 2 PM EST/ 11 AM PST.  

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • The fastest way to search using the keyword search
  • Search strings to build company and title lists
  • 360 Sourcing - a method that works with the LinkedIn UI to surface hot candidates
  • 3 New Messages to generate interest and stand out to jobseekers
  • Important changes in settings, groups and connections (with a PDF checklist)
  • Live searches from your requests (send them in with registration to make sure yours is covered)

Come join me - and join the mailing list on the page to learn about what we're doing in Sourcing and Recruiting in 2017. 

Recruiting Apologia: Artificial Intelligence Can't Replace Recruiters

I am a steel-driving man

The hot buzz around AI is the replacement of human workers with robots or AI. I'm not worried, for several reasons. The generics are that AI isn't really AI, and by the time it is, it will replace almost all jobs. The second is that the people programming machine learning don't seem to understand recruiting.

For the purposes of this defense, I'll use AI/machine learning/and computer screening as the same idea.  

The data points that are gathered are very useful for a system, but I'm highly suspicious of the claims that they can screen better than a human. These claims are based on, quite frankly, terrible screening processes. For a chat bot to work, it has to be fed the right information. Maybe I'm missing the good ones, but I'm not seeing any example of excellent screening. I'm seeing poor screening practices replicated in these bots. An analogy would be a drop-down box in a job board asking that applicants have 2 years of experience. This sounds like a good idea, but in practice, has a value very close to zero. For AI to replace recruiters, it will have to actually replace recruiters, not just automate portions of the hiring process. Gathering data is only useful if it affects the outcome, and is not counted as an advantage of AI.  

This is intended as an apologia, a formal defense of my opinions. I believe that in the process, the action, and the skillset, recruiters cannot be replaced. The most likely scenario is augmentation for the collection of data and the reduction of paperwork. 

Recruiting is not the same as hiring. It's value lies in social proof and time saved. 

The primary definition of recruiting is making an introduction between two individuals who are poorly trained to interview. The social proof of a recruiter introduction is useful in calming fear and creating certainty. In a mature recruiting model, the hiring committee receives screened candidates who have already been vetted. This means the hiring committee should not be asking basic questions of motivation, experience, and suitability.

*All people are poorly trained to interview or be interviewed. There is no formal process, no testing, and not enough actions to constitute good interviewers or good interviewees. Belief in superior interviewing skills for a task that constitutes a very small portion of time worked is delusional. An outcome of getting hired or hiring is simply not a good indicator of interview quality. It should also be noted that a good interviewer (a recruiter), does not translate into being good at being interviewed.  

A computer screen would have to demonstrate superior screening to the hiring committee, but also social proof. Passing a test is not the same as passing a human screen. Unless companies are willing to train managers to ignore their social conditioning, the recruiter introduction will be of more value than an AI screen. I should also note that many companies utilize referral systems and rank referrals as a high quality of hire. If AI were to replace recruiters, this would eliminate the belief in and the practice of referral-based hiring. After all, if social proof is less valuable than an AI screen, then a referral is less valuable than an AI screen. 

Defense of AI is an attack on referrals, because recruiting is a form of referral-based hiring. 

Matching speech patterns

Another way humans generate comfort lies in connecting the rhythm of our speech patterns to our brain waves. Two humans speaking to each other literally reach a sweet spot in their conversation where their brain is functioning on the same bandwidth. A person cannot understand you unless their brain can match your speech, including tone, speed, words, and volume to their experience.  Again, humans are highly adaptable in listening to each other. Computers are uni-directional in this manner. The cues that tell us that we are being understood are not present in an AI interface, and cannot be. To be successful, an AI at a minimum has to be able to adopt and adapt speech patterns to generate a good conversation.

In the absence of this skill, the candidate will be assigning a large portion of their conscious processing to thinking past the screen. Instead of exploring and discussing their value, they are seeking to tell a story that will survive the computer and create good marks in the eyes of an unseen human reviewer.

Consistency is vital in the decision-making process

A human being making a decision has several well-known triggers. Verbal and written statements to a human being rank highly in terms of creating consistency. Typing answers on a computer is not a trigger. This principle is known as disinhibition. While engaging with an AI bot, the human is not making statements they feel compelled to live up to. Without the non-verbal cues of a conversation (including phone calls), a job-seeker is not making positive statements about the company, the interview or a job. Those positive statements are a major cause of decision making later in the process. Any human-computer interface would have to mimic a large portion of non-verbal clues including facial tics, presence, breathing, rhythm, and mirroring to generate a strong response from the candidate.

It is possible to program these cues, but the likelihood of mistakes due to what is known as the "uncanny valley" is not being pursued. If a robot interface is too human, we recoil. If it is not human enough, we don't care what it thinks. Failing to understand behavioral science is a major flaw in AI systems. We don't recognize how good humans are at screening each other, something that no AI can replicate. 

Current AI's are sterile, voice recognition is bad, and translation of slang is nearly impossible. 

An automated interface is by definition, sterile. Research into human-like robots and avatars shows improvement in certain kinds of information, but that information has to be carefully curated and applied to a working "AI-interface" that has sufficient voice recognition software and around 40% of the facial reflexes of a human. No chat bot is doing that now because quite frankly, it's a different skill set than writing an AI logic engine. 

The attempt to match language translation and dialects only works in a laboratory. It's similar to showing off your fancy software on your desktop configured to run your software. That you can make it work is not the same as testing it in the field. If human beings struggle to understand each other, with accents, lingo, mistaken phrases, and even the way in which we think, how could a computer be any different? When we look at voice activated software, we forget that we have to train the software to understand us, or we have to fit into a comfortable middle ground of dialect. 

The medium matters as well. Chat and text and voice and email and the eventual computer interface don't match up to expectations. The amount of logic necessary for the AI to learn requires a true AI, which again, is not what is offered today or in the near future. 

We don't know why we hire

Research into quality of hire is simply not conclusive. In order to replace a functioning part of the hiring process, we would have to better understand hiring. We are literally at the leeches to draw blood stage in our understanding of why people make decisions.  Confirmation bias and the role of empathy could be big factors in the success of an employee. In short - if enough people are involved and want the employee to succeed, their chances of succeeding are probably improved. Removing human contact at any stage could very well lead to disastrous hiring. 

And worse, we could be masking the effects with "good data." Team chemistry is something we can observe, the same way we can observe communication networks or social messaging. There is no one who has, as of yet, figured out to create a network that improves on communication, and there is no one who has figured out to high create high-performing teams. 

Pretending that large amounts of data and reason can lead us to successful hires is a nice fiction we peddle to sell books and explain success. 

Screening is by definition one-sided, and susceptible to changes in the market

Finally - screening is a very one-sided view of the hiring process. Companies screen jobseekers, suggesting a power differential that is one-sided. In that design, companies get to choose what they like and don't like. As supply and demand of qualified workers rises and fall in tune with technology, economic health, and generational changes, the power differential swings back to the jobseeker, and screening is seen as demeaning and useful only to the company. This is always true in high demand positions, where executives, top programmers, and top salespeople don't feel the need to participate in screening processes.

AI screening has to be useful to the jobseeker, whether they get the job or not, or it will be seen as a net negative, accidentally leaving out top performers and instead only delivering minimally qualified candidates who are willing to be shepherded into a digital cattle call. 

AI is fantastic and replacing poor processes. Those involved in paperwork, scheduling, basic screening and process notifications can and will be replaced, but the gains in productivity are actually the removal of loss of productivity from too much data. AI solves the problem of digital application. It does little to solve the problem of recruiting. Recruiting is a human function that is often mistaken for data entry and collection. The industry will shrink, as process recruiters (mostly internal) are replaced by software. This is not a threat to recruiters whose primary purpose is contact with jobseekers. 

Talent Net Live In Plano, Monday, November 9 at Capital One

When I first moved back to Texas, I met a guy named Craig Fisher during an event at the Ghost Bar on top of the W hotel. 

Craig's background was similar to my own - a little more fancy, as he was a top notch staffing sales guy for a lot longer than I was, before moving into social marketing. Craig's conference, Talent Net Live, is routinely one of the best events I attend. It used to be - how did I describe it? As a "conference for conference speakers." What I mean by that is the people who speak often speak at other events, and at Talent Net Live, they tend to let the chains off. 

When I speak, I try to get as advanced and complex as I can, knowing that the audience is capable of taking everything I throw at them. This isn't to cast an aspersion on other conferences - but speaking at Talent Net is a different kind of conference. It's cool. It's fun. It's smart. It's full of people who treat each other as family and are keen on welcoming new people into that family. 

So yes, you should come. The event is held at Capital One in Plano this year, which is a top notch facility. To sign up, head to this registration link. If you need to convince your boss - have him or her call me. 

If you're coming in from out of town - the Nylo is close - great little hotel. You'll want to stay in West Plano or Frisco. Lots of choices - and right on the edge of the $5 billion mile. 


Summer Hiring Season Is Over. Ready For September?

Best year in 15 years for hiring across the board, and as anecdotally reported by recruiters, permanent hires are through the roof, even in the month of June. That should tell industry veterans something. 

Normally, summer months are slower, because so many people are scheduled with vacations and early days off that interviews just take longer. It's also a weirder time, because companies who are hiring feel more pressure to get it done so they can head to the lake. That's certainly been the case this year. But like the winter holidays, those who work hardest in June reap the benefits of July hiring before August falls off the cliff. 

It's just hot in August, and it's a bad month to start for the kinds of jobs I work on. It is great prep time, as hiring in September is pretty much the last viable month if you want production out of someone in 2015. 

That's not just me yapping. An awesome digital salesperson in North Carolina told me to get on the phone and make his hire happen now, because if he started in September, with a month of training, his output for the year would be scraps, versus if he started now, he got the last great month in the year to grab his share of budget. 

In Retail Marketing, it's even more important. You can't hire a digital marketing in the 4th quarter, because they and you are so busy, getting together is nightmarish. 
It's July 17th. If your digital manager left this Spring after their bonus, and you've been searching since then, now is the time to call your recruiter or ramp up your sourcing efforts. September hiring starts day. You have 45 days to get it right. 

Prediction On The Next Big Thing In Digital Marketing: Hyper Personal

A series of good conversations at SXSW and over the last two months has led me to believe that narrowing our focus will be the most effective tactic in digital marketing in 2015

"...the insights that apply to one field ultimately boil down to the same solution for an old problem. Content is dead. Not because Content isn't important - but because we use it wrong. We're not willing to take a chance and personalize our content, which means that we design/create awesome and not so awesome stuff that really only titillates marketers."

We're drowning in content and analytics - and the amount of waste in the pipeline for most lead generation is astounding. Efficiency is gained creating steps in our marketing, which isn't that much different than the old social "influencer," model, but the new data capabilities should bring us actual influencers rather than the internet celebrity we've used as shorthand for 8 years. 

The words I hear are "end-to-end marketing," with the shorthand being "business experience." Clearly, the best marketers have an eye on operations on sales, and that experience leads us to the Grand Unified Theory. 

It's the old B2B mantra - give me 20 leads that will close instead of 20 million. The methods are the same, but the focus is different (if you don't believe me, ask a B2B strategist to run a 20 MM impression campaign, and watch their expression of horror). 

So the next big thing, is not "personalization" it's turning our focus from "the market" to digestible wins based on smaller groups. I'll make an image later.

2015 Is Going To Bring A Lot Of Pain In Digital Hiring

What a fascinating end of the year. A very slow start to 2014 was matched with record numbers at the end of the year, as companies doled out the big bucks to hire and retain talent. 

Offers were up, but so were counter offers. Candidates in the hottest disciplines were getting multiple interviews and offers, and turning them down so often that I begin to think not turning down an offer was a sign that you weren't that good. 

And a series of interesting trends are going to hit us next year, as the digital talent hired in 2011-12 (what I call the three year window for promotion or job change)  pokes its head up and says, "what's next?" Add in generational gaps in the numbers of people available (less Gen-Xer's, Baby Boomers retiring), the hangover effect on Millennials who struggled through the 2008 meltdown, and a generally risk-averse candidate pool, and you have one of those years where the only answer is Facebook Memes on HireGeddon.

November and December were filled with a lot of phone calls and a lot of discussions with my target market - people making $100k to $180k in the digital and social spaces. With just one exception, everyone was willing to make a move from their current employer, and that one exception said late 2015. It's not that surprising that people talking to a recruiter would be open to moving, but keep in mind I don't advertise for positions or ask for resumes. These are cold and warm calls directly into businesses to find candidates. 

Spring Bonus season is coming, and 4th Quarter for ecommerce is done, so expect to see the hiring engines ramping up in January, with a lot of movement in March, and then a tidal wave of open positions in April as companies began posting jobs to replace those that left. That's a common cycle, but I expect to see over a hundred prominent moves in e-commerce along among big brands, and the fact is there just aren't enough people to fill the high-level jobs now. To make it worse, many companies hired the inexperienced and spent three years training their team, which means you have middle management with 10 years of digital experience, who hold together a much younger team whose sole work experience is cutting edge tactical.

To complicate things even further, job responsibilities are not clearly defined, which means that many candidates have resumes that read well, but their experience was limited to being in the room as it was being discussed. This was a common problem with developers in the 2000's, as you couldn't tell the difference between those who were on the team and those who did the work.

In short, you can't just post a job and hope you get a reasonable number of resumes. I've seen $60,000 jobs that get 1000 resumes, with hundreds of them seeming accurate until you call.


Here is some advice to think about for the next year, both for the client and the candidate side. It's not backed up by fancy reports, and it's focused around digital natives, but it's what I tell clients, and hopefully can help you in your job search. 

1) Clients that lose a talented junior executive need to hire placements quickly: 
There are a lot of hungry companies out there, and many are throwing money at people to move. Pay jumps of $20,000 are low for those in email, social display, social media, data and analytics, mobile optimization, and strategy. That money doesn't seem to have the power it used to, as roughly 50% of the people I talked to don't see money as their prime motivator. That's a generational shift we'll have to get used to. If you're hiring the under-35 crowd, don't think more money is the selling point. 

So why do you need hire replacements quickly? Company loyalty is no more. Boss loyalty is the new way to roll, and when your boss leaves, a major reason to stay disappears. We're not just talking about employees following a popular leader to another company. If one talented person leaves, the chances of the rest of the team bolting as well goes up. I'm seeing entire departments decimated by employees leaving, and when you trace it back, it almost always involved one important employee who left, and then a 6-9 month search that the internal team sees isn't that important. 

This is very important, and explains why so many candidates are looking for influence and attention instead of money. This has always been the case in B2B work, but I'm seeing a real change in B2C attitudes as well. Siloed companies are at the most risk. It's not just the work load - it's a signal of your commitment. 

2) It's Rarely A Bidding War, But It Is An Attention War
That may seem weird to say after I said salaries were going to explode, but the failures I'm seeing are in how we treat these candidates in the process, not what we need to pay them to fight off other offers. If you're not even getting to the offer stage, or you're making offers that aren't enthusiastically accepted, it's because you're the backup in case it all goes south. 

We worked with one client that was bringing candidates into the HR entrance and having them fill out paper forms. Is that how you want to start pitching a candidate you expect to run handle $20 million in digital spend? A simple fix? Bring them in the front - have manager meet them before the paperwork, or at the very least have the manager walk them back to HR. 

If your manager can't spare 5 minutes, paper boy isn't going to fix the problem. 

3) Set Expectations And Stick With Them
Candidates want to know what the process is. Tell them. Send it to them. Stick to it. They're evaluating you both on how you hire, and what they'll have to do to hire if they accept the offer.

4) If The First Time The Manager Sees The Resume Is When The Candidate Hands It To Them, You're Doing It Wrong. 
Don't laugh. I spend hours prepping candidates, and when an interview goes bad, it's usually because the manager spent of all 10 seconds preparing. When the candidate stops calling, do you think the manager is going to say, "I blew it," or are they going to come up with some reason the person wasn't a fit anyway? Stop losing good candidates whose only demands are that you look them in the eye and know their name before they walk in the door. 

5) They're Talking About You. And They Don't Like What They Hear
If you really want to know your company reputation, go to a conference, tell people you're interviewing at your company, and ask them what they think. Social/Digital people are the most connected on the planet. The good ones hear a company name, and before I'm off the phone, they're emailing, DM'ng, texting and messengering their connections asking if they should stay on the phone with me. 

6) Make Sure You're Talking To Your Recruiter
Attention spans are short. It doesn't matter if you're talking to your headhunter or your internal HR - if they don't have quick feedback, they can't give quick feedback. In this world, no call means no offer. If you aren't interested in hiring, don't think you can come back in a week and set up another interview. 

Yes, this means you have to make decisions and live with them. But isn't that your job? 

You Have Six Months
Gas Prices Are Low. The stock market is soaring. Nothing is changing in Washington until 2016. The first six months are going to be very important if you want the best people. 

Oh, and one last piece of advice. 

Day 2 Morning Notes From Digital Dallas Summit 2014: #DDSUM14

Here we go with Day 2. 

1) Good advice fom @weisesarah about creating personas. Give them a name and a picture. Ask what's in their purse. Make it specific. 

2) The question I heard from a candidate about what makes you more money, improving your mobile app buying experience or hiring a social team still makes me cry a little. So I posted it as a question. 

3) Email isn't dead. Everyone who makes money admits they use email, and @mparkerbyrd says that it's still 3400% ROI for email. But everyone hates it. And it's also true that kids don't read their email. What does that mean for the future?

4) I'm not comfortable with training your customers that you'll always respond. These teams aren't prepped, and all they want is to get you off line. 

5) Talking about marketing automation - he uses the word Omnichannel. I can't wait until that word is destroyed. We should mock it. - Although Hassan Bawab of Magic Logix has a good definition - "fancy way of saying your sales staff is providing the customer with an ideal [buying] experience."

6) I like the slide, "I've known you were going to purchase this for six months." "You're weirding me out - can I just pay and leave." Marketing Automation session from Hassan. 

7) I just asked the conference organizer to play Shia Live. Actually played it for him on my phone. Not sure if they're taking requests for bumper music. They're playing Billy Joel right now. 

8) Mel Carson tells a great story about hiring a monk from Google Ads. It was 10 years ago. He has a testimonial. 

9) Mel also talks about breaking PR into different tiers. I remember doing this for blogging in 2006. The difference now is that much of the "national press" we used to pitch has been replaced with "national blogs." This is the advantage of experience. 

10) In the Marketing Technology panel, listening to @ipullrank - it's funny, because no one here bats an eye at that data privacy intrusion we take for granted, but I can't help but think a lot of people would freak if they knew how easy it was for just about anyone to know almost everything about someone that is in a database. Address, phone, email, IP address, number of people in the home, ages, credit card purchase data. It really is a scary world, but it's been around since the early days of the ETL Data Warehouses. 

Notes From Digital Dallas Summit 2014

This is going to be just a section for my notes:

1) Trying to choose between Beacon talk and videos. I want cat videos, but will go to the Beacon talk.
2) Met Amy King from Nested Strategies. Ran into Jeremy Roberts from Sourcecon. {What's he doing here?}

3) American Airlines speaker Philip Easter is funny. Video is too damn loud. And hysterical, because with a iphone5, it looks outdated. NVC technology tells American Air where people are when they check in, allowing them to customize service for their apps, for special needs, kids... Pretty cool. 
4) Ran into another candidate - looks like funny Tweets are doing their job. 

5) Will Clevenger of RBA is a smart guy. Remember to follow him. Talking about trends and disruptions. 
a) Enhancing customer experience, b) Transforming digital, c) customizing rewards. 
What does ambient mean?

6) Microsoft guy on UX - didn't like when one of world's biggest companies claims they're a startup, but this guy is polite, and so is the audience. Super polite. When he says hipster doofus, no one laughs sardonically. They all nodded. 

November Headhunting Report For Digital And Social Marketers


Spring is still the big time for digital recruiting. Many company companies bonus in February and March, especially those looking at their holiday sales, which means no one likes to leave with $30,000 on the table. 

Hiring is slightly up for companies who don't depend on 4Q, and movement by candidates in companies where the bonus isn't assured is always a risk.

Below are my notes for October's calls - if they're useful to you, consider sharing it to your network. 

1) Companies are taking too long to hire

Check this article out from Harvard Business Review. It's happening, and getting worse. Basic premise is there's a lot of risk in hiring, and execs/managers/companies are nervous about it. Companies need to improve their process, and recruiters need to address concerns on both sides. There's a lot of wasted time that occurs because "top talent" likes to be courted, but isn't honest about what they want and need.

My rule of thumb is 30 days. You have 30 days from the day the candidate feels like they are a candidate to hire. After that, not only do offers fail, but performance and retention are affected as well. 

And if you're  company that has a critical digital management position open for over six months, Beware! I've seen a number of companies hollowed out when management positions aren't filled.  

2) Salaries about to explode in the social commerce space for the right people.

This is happening in a lot of tight areas, and nothing is tigher than social commerce right now. There are only 50 companies on the Social Media 500 with revenues over $1MM tracked to social media channels. There are 100 companies that want that, and they want it today. I anticipate Sr Manager and Director level positions rising dramatically by June of next year. At the same time, I anticipate much shorter leashes for those jobs. If they boost your salary by $20,000, you may have only a quarter to show results.  

3) Salary matters less then budget and authority

The really competent in this space range from the technical to the analytic to super managers. In the last month, I've heard dozens of times that salary is less important than budget commitment and authority. Salary still matters, but a big bump in pay is less important than infrastructure and marketing department integration. Great social and digital leaders need senior level executive champions who commit to letting them create working campaigns. It's not about a $10MM ad campaign. It can be $100,000, as long as you get the full amount and are allowed to complete the campaign. 

4) Telecommuting is a huge unmet need

Big Brand experience can be important in this space. Apple is not the same as Pete's Apple Emporium. But the number of large firms with a big digital presence can be very limited in a single city that isn't San Francicso or New York or Dallas. There are some very talented people who can't uproot their families, but would travel or take telecommuting jobs with large brands. 

Companies don't like this, of course. They want to see if you make it before they let you work remotely, so there's a tension there that should be interesting. The companies that figure out telecommuting or commit to remote teams are going to be big winners, or...candidates will just have to move for new jobs. Hard to tell where in the cycle we are.  

5) 1 out of 5 of you has what it takes
When I first committed to social media headhunting in 2008, 80% of the people I spoke with had never taken a check for what they claimed they could do. Now, most people get checks, but they're wildly optimistic about their impact on the company.

Well, social is now a preference layer instead of a skillset, so integration with the company is a must. It's fascinating, because social piggybacked on the old fight between Digital and Print (or Creative or Traditional), and now, full integration really is a powerful tool. Combining Direct Mail with Television with Email with Social with Sales is hard to do, but many of you are getting good at it. 1 out of 5 that I talk to understand it and have done it. 

That's good news for companies, who now are told "this person exists," instead of "um, let me look around."

About These Reports

These reports are going to start coming monthly, as a way for me to keep notes and track trends while I'm on the phone.  Expect to see more writing here as I'm now focused 100% on the recruiting side of the house for Brandstorming, and am no longer taking marketing or outsourcing contracts.

Our sweet spot is going to be executive search in  Digital/Social/Web/Content/Email/Analytics in the 100-180K salary range in the US, focusing on the South, Midwest, Mountain West, and Southern California.

 If we're not connected, do so now. Go ahead and call me a friend to connect. You're reading, the blog, right? 

View Jim Durbin's profile on LinkedIn

 If you follow me on Twitter, RT or favorite something I write, and I'll follow back so you can do a confidential DM. I don't live tweet to people who may be looking.

How To Gain From Networking: The Spirit Of Generosity

A simple, but effective, training tool for learning to network is learning to be generous. Think of most networking functions. Most people are too petrified to do more than stand around. Some stand alone. Others huddle in groups with friends they brought along or with people they barely know. Mixed in with the frightened masses are a few outgoing people who step up to a new group, or new person, and ask what they do.

Most of us are grateful to be talking to anyone, but there is a mercenary quality to the question;

"So what do you do?"

Seminar presenters and book-writers pull down big books teaching you how to answer the question, "So what do you do?", but how many people hear the unspoken words that follow it?

So what do you do, and how can I profit from it?

So what do you do, so I can determine whether I need to move on to someone else?

So what do you do, and answer quickly so I can tell you what I do.

There's nothing wrong with asking someone what they do, but the intention behind the question is seldom curiousity. It's a transaction of information - and it's why we hate networking. So I want you, both as a candidate, and as a salesperson (and we're all salespeople), to think of networking in a new light. Networking opportunities, whether they be user groups, career fairs, industry conferences, or standing in line at the local grocery store should be boiled down to one goal - Get the other person to view you as a generous individual.

We love generous people. From big-hearted philanthropists to gift-bestowing grannies to Santa Claus, the idea of someone giving without requiring something in return is an indicator of a good soul, a kind spirit, and in most cases, a very effective icebreaker. The way to do so is simple to say;

"My name is Jim Durbin, and I'd like to know what I can help you with."

Now, you should use your own name, but this little sentence will change the way you view networking events. When you approach someone, think of your goal as finding a way to help them.  Give them advice, a number, a name, a website. Introduce them to someone else you met.  Offer to get them a drink. Do anything that will make their lives easier and help them fulfill their goals. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering, but it does have to be sincere. The benefit of sincerely wanting to help people is that you gain, both in personality and stature, when you adopt a giving attitude. And in most cases, the cost of giving is small, and the impact, much bigger. 

You can't go through life giving and not have it affect you. This is the best part of the exercise. The intangible benefits of helping other people gain you the advantages that you hoped to procure by networking in the first place, but not in a tit-for-tat manner.  You're building a network of good will that helps them. Just as profit is created from raw materials through the exchange of goods, benefit is generated in excess of the cost through successful networking, which means everyone who chooses to participate, wins. This manner of thinking is counterintuitive, but correct. And for those who are scratching their heads, the idea of generousity does not apply to your entire life. Giving away all you earn or your services or time for free is a quick route to the poorhouse. The principle of giving in networking only applies to small cost, large impact decisions. So be generous. Learn to help others.  Pass around names.  Take the time to give numbers.  Actually call your contacts and tell them to talk to the person you offered to help.  Send the email from your phone while standing there. 

Take the focus off your needs and put it on others, and you'll find that networking boosts your energy and productivity, instead of being another chore you slog through. To a stingy man, the world is a window to be closed, keeping what is yours and preventing others from taking it. To a generous man, the world beckons like an open doorway, promising riches, excitement, and pleasure the rest of his day. Networking isn't just about finding leads, or job prospects, or people who can help you. It's about improving your social skills, gaining critical knowledge, and branding yourself as a go-to candidate.  Take the focus off yourself, and you will find that people respond to good will.