The following is an approximate transcript.
Heather: Hello and thank you for joining Episode 34 of Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. My name is Heather Huhman, and I am the founder & president of Come Recommended, as well as the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Cachinko. I’m joined by my co-host, Tony Morrison.
Tony: Thank you and good morning Heather. As Heather mentioned, my name is Tony Morrison, and I am the vice president of business development for Cachinko. We operate a free job matching and career networking application on Facebook. Our goal is to help job seekers find jobs they’ll love through the people they know and trust. We also develop online recruiting solutions for employers to build talent communities that help them to find, attract, and engage top candidates for their open positions.
Heather: Today’s episode is “How to Keep the Conversation Going in Your Job Search.” Let’s get started, Tony “How important is conversation in the job search?”
Tony: Conversation forms the basis for a connection, a relationship at some level, and also the sharing of common goals and interests.
If you’ve ever seen a job description that did not include the requirement, “Must have strong written and/or verbal communication skills”? I’ve never seen anything like that, and I’ll bet you have not either.
Conversations can be very tricky. They are interactive and therefore progress spontaneously. That’s face to face, or even online. They also follow rules of social etiquette. Both face to face and online. Not following these rules can result in the conversation turning into an unrecoverable argument. Or just being dismissed from a group or an interaction. These rules are simpler for conversations between two people or among friends you know. They are more formal and rigid in the workplace and in professional networks, and, for the most part, they are clearly understood though when you are in a workplace. The norms for interaction and conversation have already been defined. But the rules of engagement become very blurry when you start interacting with one or more people you have not met before and do not know well. This happens a lot in professional networking sites and association forums.
Because a conversation is a series of contributions to a subject, including response reactions, in this social media age, a conversation occurs quickly with every click. Every response is a contribution to the conversation. Like’s and dislikes, comments and shares with your other social networking platforms, they are all forms of conversation.
But, the conversations that really matter are those that add value to the subject and shed some light on who you are as a person and as a professional. These types of contributions, they help others decide about where to put you in their network and how much credit they will give to you in their social networking efforts.
Now imagine you are having a conversation with peers or opinion leaders online and in and among that network with whom you are conversing there are employers who are looking for someone with your exact skills. You want to be able to present yourself in the best possible light.
So, in my opinion, that’s the power of a conversation in the job search.
Heather: Absolutely. So, who should a job seeker be talking to?
TONY: A job seeker should be talking with everyone. Friends, past and present work colleagues, bosses, professional peers in associations to which they belong…everyone. It takes time, and it is a lot of work, but you have to talk with everyone.
By interacting with your networks, you not only will learn about opportunities for yourself, you will learn about potential jobs for others in your network. If you are listening well enough, opportunities for career growth, network development, and your dream job could happen virtually every day.
Heather: How can a job seeker start a conversation? And where potentially can this conversation be started?
Tony: Conversations are mainly thought of as informal, and they can happen anywhere and at any time. This is very true today in the social media age.
The first step to staring or starting a conversation is to be there, to be present, wherever there is, and be in the moment. Pay attention to your surroundings or the forum and the people that are there too.
Be polite, smile. Some people say that a smile transmits over a telephone line. You may not be able to see the other person but you can tell when they are smiling. So be polite, smile. Keep the conversation light at first, relax and, keep smiling, and be authentic. Above all – Be Authentic! If you are trying to be someone you are not, you will be uncomfortable, and people will notice.
Listen for a topic on which you are knowledgeable or passionate, and find a commonality between yourself and the other people with whom our interacting or want to get to know.. Contribute your value to the conversation and then listen for a response.
When I know the person, or have some sort of a relationship, for instance, a business relationship, I use variations on the conversation formula, “How are you doing?” How am I doing? and, “What can I do better?” or, “What can we do together?” This usually gives a person plenty to discuss, and notice that it really is all focused on benefiting the other person. In a social situation, or maybe a networking event where you do not know people, introduce yourself. Find a person or small groups and just walk up and introduce yourself. Do the same thing in an online network, and introduce yourself before you do anything else. That’s how you get the conversation started.
Just something as simple as, “Hi, My name is Tony Morrison. How are you?” That can get the conversation started.
Heather: Absolutely. So after we’ve discussed how you are doing, how I’m doing, and then either what I can be doing better or what we can be doing together, How can a job seeker keep the conversation going?
Tony: Those questions, that sort of formula usually gets enough information in to the conversation starter so you understand what are the commonalities. So all conversations have a beginning, middle, and an end. So how do you start the conversation? Know when it’s run its course, is very important. Know how to start a conversation, be comfortable starting it, and know when the conversation has run its course.
Good conversationalists are not always talking. They are active listeners too. So, to keep the conversation going, always listen. Don’t just formulate the next sentence or thought that you want to say while the other person is talking, or disregard the messages and posts that others are offering to the conversation if you’re online. Truly listen to what others are saying in the conversation. If you are paying attention to what is being said back, you will always be able to add value. And to keep that conversation going. And because others will have opinions a different perspectives, you’ll be able to keep multiple conversations going and some of those might even take on a life of themselves. By listening, and demonstrating that you value what others have said in the conversation shows respect for the others’ viewpoints. And it makes you seem more approachable and accessible. So others will want to continue talking with you. This is encouraging to everyone who might listen and even people who are not prone to contribute will be compelled to participate.
Also defer judgment about a person’s experience, opinion, or thoughts on a subject, and don’t interrupt others with counterargument, or attempts to interject humor where it could be misunderstood. Humor is very commonly misunderstood. And sarcasm never works. Inappropriate responses to a person or more than one person can quickly destroy your brand in social media. Before you know it, your responses have been shared with an audience and your brand has been destroyed.
Keep in mind, you do not always have to be talking. A good conversation will run its course, so know when to let the conversation go. It is important to mention that in social networking, a conversation may be synonymous with a relationship. Persistence in a conversation that has run its course can cause awkwardness among participants, devolve into an argument, and alienate connections, destroying that relationship. Listen for cues to close a subject and identify opportunities to continue a conversation to reintroduce a new topic for conversation when its appropriate. A new topic or opportunity to talk will always present itself, you just have to be listening and know when and to interject that opportunity into the conversation. So when it does be prepared to share something you value on the topic or something you know or experience about that topic and ping your network to discuss it with you further.
Heather: Thanks so much, Tony. That’s all the time we have for today. You’ve been listening to Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. For details about the next episode, please visit blog.cachinko.com.