Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Sixty to 90 percent of jobs are found informally - mainly through friends, relatives, and direct contacts."

I thought about the above statistic as I read a new book called The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like. The author, Michelle Lederman, gives good advice on how to network in a more relaxed and authentic way. If you are looking for a job (or trying to build your business), her advice can be invaluable.

My favorite chapter was one on "The Law of Perception" that discussed nonverbal body language and how important it is in a job interview or in business dealings. Making eye contact, standing tall, and pausing at the right time can all lead to positive perceptions whereas lack of eye contact or staring, slouching and coming off as insincere and fake can give a negative impression that loses you a job interview or potential client.

I used to think it was unfair that people had to get others to like them or had to know someone to get a job but I realize that this analysis was unfair itself. Why would someone want to hire someone or do business with someone who is not recommended by a person that you think highly of? Is a complete stranger with no known background a better bet? I doubt it.

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26 Comments:

Blogger The Captain said...

Harry Beckwith (author of Selling the Invisible and other excellent sales tomes) says that although people think life is like college, it's not. There's a presumption that after you have accumulated enough good grades, degrees, letters after your name, etc, that people will be bowled over by your obvious brilliance and will come crawling to you. Not even a little. Beckwith says life is like high school, and personality is all. He's right.

People who build wide, deep networks are more effective in their personal and professional lives. That's because they can get stuff done. They also have support and advice available when needed, and they in turn provide it for their friends. Everybody benefits and prosperity ensues.

Another guy named Michael Port wrote a book entitled Book Yourself Solid. One of his principal points was that you must do business with people you like, who energize you and lift you up -- while you do the same for them. Anything short of that situation is drudgery and eventually it all unravels. Seen that notion in action many times.

Both of these books are very much worth reading if one is growing a business. And if you're seeking a job, you're growing a business, whether you realize it or not. Bear in mind that the post-WWII model of having as "job" is over. People over age 50 who lose a job will likely never have another, at least in the conventional sense. That is an idea worthy of celebration, not fear.

I'll have a look at Lederman's book. Hope it isn't the usual situation of what would have been a cogent ten-page essay stretched into a couple of hundred pages in order to make it a "book."

8:46 AM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger The Captain said...

And not to be a jerk, but who other than Fred Flintstone produces a new book these days without having a Kindle/eBook edition and an audio version all ready to roll out? I would have bought Lederman's book and read it this morning on the iPad Kindle app...but there ain't no such thing available. Kind of makes you wonder about the pertinence of the author's advice on other matters.

8:49 AM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

The Captain --

"People over age 50 who lose a job will likely never have another, at least in the conventional sense. That is an idea worthy of celebration, not fear."

Such the comfort to a guy of fifty-four who can't get hired in his chosen profession because they're enamored of youth and he needs to work as a salad-bar attendant to pay rent.

Got friends in that position. Not celebration-worthy.

9:47 AM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

In my observation, the 60%-90% rule would stand although 90% seems a little too high. I can give you a long list of academic under-performers I know who have done quite well in their careers, but I'll avoid the boredom.

10:22 AM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger ZorroPrimo said...

I'm not certain that this pertains directly to the issue at hand, but I'll bore you to tears with it anyway.

Years ago I wanted to teach English as a Second Language in Japan. The money was awesome and the work was light. I ended up in Saudi Arabia (awesome money, light work), but I wanted Japan. Prior to signing my contract, I personally interviewed 37 people who taught ESL in Japan. They all said the big money was in private students, not the classroom scene. There's a word for it and I've long forgotten it, but the Japanese have a rule about hiring people: The Philosophy of Introduction is what it is. A person who has a Ph.D. in TEFL or ESL is not what anyone wants; it's the person who is cool, mannered and easy to deal with. Once you connect with your classroom students, they refer you to their friends, relatives and coworkers for private lessons. It takes about 6 months, and if you apply yourself to learning the Japanese way of doing things, you swim in private students.

Human nature. We like whomever we like. And this has been validated by repeated independent studies. A person who gets along with others and is likeable gets the job, they keep the job, and they rise in the job.

Likability trumps credentials and competence. If I like you, I'll gladly overlook your shortcomings.

11:31 AM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

What would happen if we didn't have to be likeable? If we didn't have to worry about what everybody else thought of us? What happened if we could toss out any idea big or small and not be concerned about being scoffed at by our boss or colleague?

Imagine how much more creative and productive the workforce would be.

2:27 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

What would happen if we didn't have to be likeable?

We'd have a lot of problems working in groups and co-existing. We'd probably get along about as well as grizzly bears.

4:38 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm conducting a little experiment right now. I've taken on a blogging project. Normally when I do a blogging project I'm nice about it. I reach out, I might do some speeches, answer questions and socialize with other like-minded bloggers. However, for this particular project I've decided to be more hermit-like. I'm not reaching out, I'm not socialize although I am meticulously collecting my data, formulating my hypothesis, making my spreadsheets, bar graphs, pie charts and proving my points one by one with no help, assistance or approval from anyone.

When I started out months ago I made a lot of people mad. I was bucking the acceptable POV. Now I am 10 months into the project. People are still mad but they've gotten quieter. People are challenging my hypothesis and I am systematically defending myself with my data and statistics. I've got a lot of people's attention although I am far from changing anyone's mind.

If I had worried about making friends, what people thought and how people would react I'd still be at step 1. Sure, I'm not working well in a group or co-existing, but I'm getting further on less. I'm not sure group-think is necessary for every application.

4:57 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger ZorroPrimo said...

I like you, Cham. I really, really like you!!!

*MUAH!*

How's that for an experiment?

5:04 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

You may have a successful experiment and lots of nice charts, but, unless you're one of a few, it won't help your career or plight in life.

My favorite example of the importance of being sociable, etc: Two brothers graduate from the same school with the same major, about 1-2 years apart. The first is the top of his class, but socially awkward. The other graduates with a 2.01 GPA, a minimum of 2.00 is required to graduate. Guess who's making double the other? Hint: it's not the guy with the higher GPA.

As I said earlier, I can go on for a long time with boring anecdotes to this point. It's not about accomplishing one project. It's about a career.

5:16 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

My blogging project has nothing to do with my ability to earn money. Trust me, when it comes to my career I'm a social butterfly. People with social skills may earn more money than people without social skills, but that doesn't make them effective at anything but earning more money.

5:36 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Agree with you completely, Cham. I've always found certain activities best done alone. Studying was one. I found studying with a group to be inefficient at best, to many distractions, socializing, etc. I'll study with others, but always reserve time for studying by myself to make sure I actually learn what I need to. I usually do better than those I studied with.

6:38 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger Ern said...

There's no question that being a nice guy helps. Just look at all the nice guys who are senior executives of major American corporations . . . Steve Ballmer! Larry Ellison! Steve Jobs! Mark Cuban! Sweethearts, every one of them.

8:39 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

I try to be likeable, and I try to like who I deal with (customers) and usually am able to accomplish that. Most people who meet each other for the first time are on their best behavior. Perhaps a bit too much.

I have also found it most helpful to know what the heck I'm talking about.

At 58, I am well aware that if I lose my job, I'm screwed. Fortunately what I do for a living is not a crowded field and my cumulative knowledge gained from what I do is actually helpful to those in whatever room I walk into. So I am on my best behavior out in the field, but I'm a prick to many of the young buck know it alls back at the office. Straight up, they piss me off.

8:39 PM, August 28, 2011  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

anyone who understands the power of networking knows that personality is what drives the contact..and not just facebook famous either, face-to-face is what works, and to anchor the contact one has to be likeable, otherwise people won't give you the "second date".

i had a phd historian as a cleint some years ago, and he was such an insufferable c**k that i found it difficult to work work with him...the fact that he got a $50,000 advance on a book deal and openly told me he couldn't be bothered to write a word didn't help matters any.

and being effective at earning more money is what having a job/career is about. many people start out thinking about the high-mindedness of a career, only to find out that a paycheque is what they and their family really wanted from the outset.

12:23 PM, August 29, 2011  
Blogger Mary said...

"many people start out thinking about the high-mindedness of a career, only to find out that a paycheque is what they and their family really wanted from the outset."


And the reverse also holds true: Many people, especially successful men, with untouchable paychecks and all the accolades and awards a trophycase can hold often find themselves in mid- to late-career envying those with more "freedom" who actuallly enjoy their work, fully, and aren't in it solely for the prestige or paycheck.

These types tend to overcompensate, blowing their dough on high-end material goods, maybe taking on a newer "better" family (ie/younger, better looking) and plenty begin to live their own dreams through their kids...

Just saying: don't be seduced by the idea of that great career you've successfully networked your way too. Plenty have been there already, and spend their days looking back, at where they "went wrong."

Hard to believe, I know, but there it is. In the end, to thine own self be true, can indeed be very good career advice. Especially if you're after more than money and prestige, and are a creative individual with strong skills to begin with. In those cases, following the pack, even making your way to the head of the rat race, can be less fulfilling ultimately than finding your own path, and not worrying about what all the others are doing (or making, moneywise.)

2:07 PM, August 29, 2011  
Blogger Magson said...

I was out of work for about 10 months last year. I started out my job search in what is now the traditional manner (ie looking at the internet ads, joining the job boards, etc). I got about 1-2 interviews a week fairly regularly, but while I knew I was in serious consideration at a few places, I never got an offer.

After about 7 months of that, I joined a local business college's employment program. This program made sure to say "yeah, do what you've been doing" but also had everyone completely revamp their resume to make it use "power statements" to sell yourself to a company, not simply a list of your past experience

It was also strongly suggested that you volunteer at your local govt employment office for 4 hours a week, since this will network you with other people seeking jobs -- they know where jobs are since they're looking for them, and they can tell you about jobs that they didn't get or just heard about, or whatever. Beyond that, you were to make a list of 100 contacts on 3x5 cards (yes, I know, low tech, but there's a method to the madness) then put them in a little card catalog with numbers corresponding to the date. Call 20 the 1st day and ask if that contact is hiring or knows if their company is hiring or who to talk to in the company, etc. Write answers down. If you get a new contact, call it immediately and same thing, etc. Put cards in your file for a week later for follow up. Those that don't know anything at all get pulled out.

Overall this makes it so you make 20-ish calls per day at about 5 minutes per call. Means about 2 hours of this, but it makes a huge network for you overall. I don't know if it actually gets the results they say of "Guaranteed to have a job in 16 weeks or less" since I'd barely started it when I got a call on my resume out on one of the internet sites and got a job that way, but overall the program sounded like it had a ton of promise to me.

And FWIW, they had a career workshop too wherein they said that about 90% of all job searching is done on the web anymore, but only about 10% of jobs are found that way. the vast majority were in the personal networks or by actually approaching the company in person. Yeah, pounding the pavement was still said to be 3 or 4x more effective than internet searches.

3:19 PM, August 29, 2011  
Blogger Andrew said...

@Mary: My idea of a successful career is self-employment. I want to be the master of my own life, and networking makes that happen.

@Magson: Don't neglect that network you've began to build, you never know when someone near and dear to you may need a job, or anything else from your new associates.

6:44 AM, August 30, 2011  
Blogger Mary said...

"My idea of a successful career is self-employment. I want to be the master of my own life, and networking makes that happen."


Or ... networking cripples you from achieving independence.

Think the career politicians who suddenly become "self employed" via their networds. They're still trapped in their circles.

I guess it depends on how you define "networking" -- how much it's sucking up to people in power, and how much it's your own skills being valued over your social contacts. I think the latter most lends to freedom and happiness, and the former is more like being employed, but pretending -- even though you're still wrapped up in the network -- that you are controlling your own moves, not choosing them soley based on how your contacts will respond.

"Don't neglect that network you've began to build, you never know when someone near and dear to you may need a job, or anything else from your new associates."

Smells ... inefficient. (hire out of your network, as opposed to hiring out the best, period. Again, you're soon trapped by the limits of your network, no matter how large you might think it is today.)

4:22 PM, August 30, 2011  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

my step-daughter is remarkably lazy and unmotivated to find employment, but managed to find a $24 per hour job by applying for a job where one of her friends works who knew that a position was becoming available.

not bad for a 20 year old with two years of college in vet technology where the top wage is $14 per hour and who watches tv with facebook open on her laptop all day.

5:24 PM, August 30, 2011  
Blogger Mary said...

dr alistair:

Something tells me, that kind of "successful hiring" is what's causing this country to go down the toilet.

It's great to hire (unqualified) friends. Especially at an inflated wage. Congrats to you for bragging on your offspring here.

Sadly though, most of us look at that and are not proud so much, just embarrassed at how such "networking connections" work. Tell her to keep it up: one day, she can aspire to be a bailed-out failed executive, coasting on the public dime off the consequences of her actions.

(It's kinda like the burden of Glenn's success: he links to inferior sorts, who think that the multiple clicks means ... "success"! Again, it buys him lots and lots of (probably later unused) shiny consumer goodies, yet the quality of the work suffers. Is his writing, and legal analysis, any good, or is he just now, finally, in with the in crowd?

He makes the reps of gals like ANNIE -- am I a lib or a conservative? and Megan -- don't confuse me for an economist.

And Helen, surely helen's blog is helped by knowing the godfather.

Yet if you read him, I don't see too much enjoyment of such "success". Probably because he knows, it's in the computer manipulations rather than the quality of work. The game lacks, because of the cheap competition.

Mark my words -- better being honest, and going for the true career challenges rather than settling for the shiny "success" that leaves you wanting more and more...

6:36 PM, August 30, 2011  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

mary, you misunderstand my take on this whole thing regarding my step-daughter. i don't think she will stick with the job, and is already wanting a co-signature for a car and so on based on a one year contract job for which she really is qualified (lab testing of mice). her friend came from the same college course she did...except her friend will keep the job as she is the type of person to do so.

not long after the girl begins the job, she will be nit-picking the work of others and complaining she works harder than they do and so on, which she has done at every other job she's ever had and will make a general ass of herself to the point where she will make life hell for everyone including us having to listen to her gripe about it at supper.

all because the person hiring took the recommendation of someone who already works there, taking her word that this girl could fit in and do the work, instead of doing the normal human resources job and finding more about who this girl is before letting the fox in amongst the chickens.

it's a shame really, because $24 per hour is way more than she's worth, but she's arrogant enough to abuse the situation in spite of the pay.

9:46 AM, August 31, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Dr Alistair: Not only will your step-daughter not stay with the job, but there will be a cost to the company. You can bet your last bippy because of the lack of due diligence of the hiring manager your step-daughter will annoy a certain number of her coworkers enough so that the good ones will quit and find better employment elsewhere.

7:03 PM, August 31, 2011  
Blogger ALP said...

So I guess us introverts are screwed. As an unemployed 50 year old woman, I really didn't need to read the opinions of other 50-something posters, reminding me that I'll never work again. I already know that.

I'm lucky to have a spouse that is more marketable (engineer). Instead of chasing down non-existent employment, I'm putting that energy into slowly coming to terms with the fact I've turned into something I never thought I would:

a housewife.

7:31 PM, September 01, 2011  
Blogger Allison said...

--What would happen if we didn't have to be likeable? If we didn't have to worry about what everybody else thought of us? What happened if we could toss out any idea big or small and not be concerned about being scoffed at by our boss or colleague?


I take it you've not worked in an engineering firm. Many eng firms (They are sometimes referred to as geeks, though the overlap isn't 100%.) They care not a whit about likeability. They care not a whit about being scoffed at by a boss. And they are generally unleadable, unmanageable, and a liability for the company.

Why? Because they care not a whit about the company's clients, either--so if they think said client is stupid, dumb, or otherwise not interested in whatever item geek wants to build, they tell the client so. They care not a whit about the company's sales, either, so they won't build what the company says is the product to build; they only want to build the product they think is interesting (whether a market for that exists or not.) They care not a whit about any other strategic motivation of the company, and can't be motivated personally by anything the company can offer.

In short, they are a disaster. Sometimes they are a necessary disaster, but they are still a disaster.

We need to care what other people think of us in order to make things those other people are willing to buy. Otherwise, we simply do what we want, and 99.99% of us aren't going to be lucky enough that what we do or want to do matches up with what someone is willing to pay us if we wont' accede in the slightest to their wishes.

12:06 AM, September 03, 2011  
Blogger Uncle Bill said...

Allison said: "I take it you've not worked in an engineering firm. Many eng firms (They are sometimes referred to as geeks, though the overlap isn't 100%.) They care not a whit about likeability. They care not a whit about being scoffed at by a boss. And they are generally unleadable, unmanageable, and a liability for the company."

Huh? I worked as an engineer for 30+ years, and my experience was the exact opposite of this. To be effective as an engineer, you have to be able to work with many other groups, including manufacturing, management, sales, even legal. In fact, engineers probably interact with more functions than most other professions. People who are "unleadable, unmanageable, and a liability for the company" don't last long. Companies are in the business making a profit, and they don't tolerate this kind of behavior.

11:53 AM, September 06, 2011  

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