What experience has taught us

Written by Grégoire Depeursinge; EVP EMEA AIMS International, Managing Partner AIMS Switzerland & Leonie Pentz; VP EMEA AIMS International, Managing Partner AIMS South Africa

In our practice as Executive Search and HR Consultants, we are confronted daily with candidates, their history, their approach, their beliefs – right or wrong, their attitudes and tactics and are privileged observers of their interaction with recruiters and line managers. This is an attempt to share the lessons learnt and give some practical tips as to how to improve your chances in the market. Some of the things listed will seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how often we see even seasoned managers make mistakes they could easily avoid.

The format chosen is that of a weekly series of 6 short articles. Today is the first episode in the series:

Episode 1 – The value of a good network – Click HERE to watch the video

Your network is the key: the key to information, referrals and opportunities. Social networks are only a new form of address book. What really counts in the end is personal relationship and trust. A few tips for efficient networking:

  • Begin with networking before: before you need a new job. Too often we are so caught up in our daily business that we forget to maintain the bond with those we trust and like. Especially when the pressure is enormous, which is often the case before the end of a professional relationship, we are likely to immerse ourselves in work and forget our family, friends and former colleagues. When we suddenly realize that we need support and call them, they may remind us that we have been silent for a long time and only reconnected when we needed something.
  • Begin with networking before: for the same reason, we tend to focus so much on our own environment that we neglect building new relationships, meeting new people and learning new things. In doing this, we may end up missing opportunities and judging our own situation unrealistically, thinking that we are irreplaceable.
  • Take a genuine interest in others, what they are doing, experiencing, the knowledge they have to share, their personal environment (family, passions, interests) rather than telling them about yourself and your problems. Ask yourself what you can offer rather than what you can gain.
  • Do not show that you need something by your attitude, that you are seeking contact only out of personal interest, but rather say so in a natural way: “I am here for networking. Naturally, I would like to build useful contacts, but first and foremost I want to meet new people, learn new things, open my mind”. If you appear desperate or too eager, people will turn away.
  • Don’t be afraid of rejection. Seek contact, introduce yourself. If somebody doesn’t want to connect, it’s their loss.
  • Follow-up on your new relationships. Not just once by connecting to them on a social network, but by seeking contact again after a few months (don’t overdo it, though, nobody likes feeling harassed)
  • Prepare: if the list of participants to an event is available beforehand, study it before you go there. Even if you don’t have the chance to meet those you were interested in, you can always send them a message afterwards and ask them to connect and exchange information. Also take an interest in the topic of the event and try to connect it with your own experience so that you can make a meaningful contribution to the conversation afterwards.

In short: be authentic, approachable and take to networking with a long-term view rather than for an immediate benefit (another reason to start before you really need to…)

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