I’m reading David Bradford’s book Up Your Game, and on page 41 he talks about using a contact manager.
David is the consummate networker who has also had a terrific career. He’s a grandpa living in Utah and just recently was the CEO of HireVue, and before that, CEO of the amazing Fusion-IO. He is active on social media and has a big, giving heart.
Back to the “contact manager” concept. In the olden days (well, actually, even today) most people had not heard of a “contact manager.” Everyone had heard of a Roladex, which is an old-fashioned device that sat on your desk, and allowed you to quickly flip through cards that had your contacts’ information on them so you could find their phone number and call them. Here’s a modern-looking roladex (image courtesy wikipedia):
According to what I’ve found online, ACT! was the first digital contact manager – that is, a contact manager on a computer. It was 1986 (where were YOU in 1986??) and ACT! would be the first of hundreds. There were a few others that you probably haven’t heard of, the one I briefly used was Goldmine. Today you have likely heard of the massive $5B/annual company Salesforce.com. Perhaps there are thousands of CRM systems now.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management… and this software has mostly been designed for sales professionals. Some of them LOVE the software, and live-and-die on CRM, and others abhor CRM (because they are people people, and not software nerds).
The Roladex, and the little black book of contacts, were for anyone trying to keep track of their friend/family, etc.
CRM was really mostly for salespeople. Who else would pay that much for software that was that hard to use, when all you really wanted was a place to write down a phone number?
When David wrote about using a “contact manager” in his book, I got excited. He is not using it as a sales professional, he’s using it as a real contact manager! He’s using it to keep track of who is is meeting, what their important phone information is, when he communicates with them, and when he needs to follow-up.
Let me break that down, and make this a “how to” post. This is more of a “how to get value out of a contact manager” than how to use any bells and whistles. And just for fun, I’m going to use “JibberJobber” instead of “contact manager.”
First, store your contacts in JibberJobber.
You can store all of them, but you don’t need to. Don’t get stressed that one system (perhaps your email contact list) has contacts that are not in JibberJobber, or that LinkedIn doesn’t have all of the same contacts as you have in JibberJobber. Recognize that these are different systems with different purposes. The purpose of your contact manager (JibberJobber) is not to have the contacts everwhere else, but to serve as a central repository of IMPORTANT contacts that you are, can or want to nurture. If someone comes into your life through LinkedIn, eventually they’ll probably end up in JibberJobber.
Second, record information about those contacts.
When you first enter a contact, you likely won’t have all of the information you could put in about them. I usually start with just the first name, last name, and email address. As my relationship progresses, or as we exchange more and more emails, I will find out other information, like a work address or phone number, which might be in their official work email. Just collect this information as you get it, and gradually enter it into JibberJobber. Don’t stress about not having it to begin with…
Third, record important communication as “log entries.”
When you reach out to someone, or respond to them, log it into JibberJobber. I don’t do this all the time, but as I’m starting a relationship I’ll log any communication just to put a timeframe around how fast or slow our relationship is forming. Once I have a strong relationship with someone, I find myself logging communications less, but the quality of what I’m logging increases. For example, we meet at a networking event and I send you an email. I’ll log that email, even though it’s not going to have anything more substantial than “nice to meet you – let’s get on a call next week.” A few years later I’m not going to log every email we exchange, but if there is something big, or important, then I’ll log that. Don’t beat yourself up for not logging everything… you’ll get used to what you really want to track and what you don’t need to.
Fourth, indicate when you need to follow-up with your contacts.
This might be one of the hardest things to do, and track, for people who are starting to get serious about networking. Why? Because the more you network, the more follow-up you can do! And it feels rotten to meet people, start a relationship, and then forget when to follow-up, or who they were, or why you should follow-up, etc. In JibberJobber, you’ll create “action items,” which is basically a due date on a log entry. You can even create recurring action items, which means you can say “Ping Johnny every quarter,” to help you nurture relationships over the long-term.
Keith Ferrazzi says that if you want to be better than 95% of your competition, all you have to do is follow-up. We know this, but there’s a reason why 95 out of 100 people don’t do it: it’s hard to manage!
Let JibberJobber be your contact manager and your follow-up tool.
The focus is not on sales, rather on relationships.
Are you ready to get serious about this yet? Jump on a User Orientation webinar, and let’s start by taking baby steps together.
Last week I was doing a LinkedIn consultation with a professional who had taken time (a couple of years?) off to care for her father. She has had a fantastic, awesome career, but didn’t know how to explain her years off. She asked me how to explain this, and I reached out to career professionals in the Career Directors LinkedIn Group for advice. The experience these professionals have is broad and deep, which is why I like getting input from different professionals. Below is what I learned. I hope this can help you if you are in this situation:
Hi Jason – I would also use a sabbatical statement such as the ones Don provided. I also might just insert a statement such as:
“Took two-year leave to serve as caretaker for parent. Stayed current on industry trends and learning to remain fully prepared for next corporate challenge.”
Employers want to know that your knowledge is up-to-date as far as their needs, and that your skills aren’t rusty. There are plenty of free online courses to help even those very immersed in their caretaker roles.
Jason — I don’t think it requires a big explanation. I would either put “Family sabbatical,” “Personal Sabbatical” or “Professional Sabbatical” without adding anything else in either resume or cover letter. It just accounts for the time. And I only use years, not months/years.
There are millions and millions of Baby Boomers taking care of parents (myself included). And over the past several years I have worked with many people who have relocated, quit their jobs or took part-time work to handle what their parents need.
It is very common now and nothing your client should be nervous about. You never know that maybe the person reading would have given their eye teeth to be able to take time off work rather than feeling guilty that their job was keeping them from doing it..
I moved my mother with Alzheimer’s into assisted living in January. I was at part-time work until about the end of July because none of her affairs were in order. And I’m still dealing with two attorneys, etc. even though I’m close to full time work now. I would have had to quit a corporate job.
But in the first half of the year there was absolutely no way I could have been doing anything related to my work for keeping up with my industry or anything else. I was up to 3 am, 5 am and more trying to sell my mother’s home and everything else. I would not have been able to even think about online coursework because it frankly was not my top priority and I was exhausted.
And I wouldn’t include “fully resolved” because I think it then puts the reader in a slightly awkward position of assuming that mom or dad actually died.
Jason, I try to be as straightforward as possible, composing a quote based on the client’s circumstance. Also, I usually refer to it as a “professional leave” or “career break” because I feel the word “sabbatical” has some nuances that don’t necessarily apply to every situation.
I place the quote under the Professional Experience heading.
2012 to Oct. 2014: “I took a professional leave to attend to my terminally ill brother; following his passing, I engaged in a variety of professional development opportunities to maintain credentials and volunteer roles to keep abreast of industry trends.”
You get the gist. It may be wordy and it may be slightly shocking, but on the other hand, it leaves nothing to the imagination of the reader. Plus, the dates will (ideally) be captured by ATS.
Thanks to Don, Mary, Irene and Christine for sharing their thoughts – if you have a different idea, please share it in the comments below!
The good thing about most JibberJobber users is that they have already “ditched” their job…. so that part is taken care of And they are intensely focused on finding a career… let’s join the webinar tonight to make sure we are doing the right things so the career we are chasing is one we’ll love!
I get Liz Handlin’s newsletter. She gave me permission to post this from her newsletter… I thought it was interesting. Liz says these are her questions and his answers over coffee (learn more about Jeff Browning here):
Liz says “Jeff may see more resumes than any other recruiter in Texas so his perspective on what a resume should say and how it should look is crucial information for job seekers.”
A relationship management tool. Not JibberJobber, because JibberJobber is not optimized for what they need to do (many people in the office accessing records, people “owning” a contact, or even one conversation, etc.).
And job seekers shouldn’t use a normal CRM because it is not optimized for a job seeker. It’s probably 80 to 90% good enough, but there are things that job seekers need to do that CRM doesn’t address. And most job seekers don’t need the sales pipeline stuff that is forefront of most CRM tools.
My point is, though, that if you want to WIN, and crush the competition (well, VCs want to do that, I’m not saying you want to CRUSH anyone), you need to be more serious and purposeful about your networking, tracking, follow-up, etc.
Check out this part, under the subtitle: It’s all about the ecosystem
Manage relationships. MANAGE RELATIONSHIPS! It is an astonishingly simple idea, isn’t it? Job seekers do it on the band-aid called Excel… which eventually gets ripped off and thrown away (and all of that great information is lost!).
I want to empower YOU to disrupt your job search by using this astonishingly simple idea, which is handed to you on a silver platter called JibberJobber.
Are you serious about your job search?
Are you serious about your career?
Then get serious about JibberJobber, which is the tool to use from now until the end of your career, to help you manage relationships.
Read the article for more inspiration… and get on a webinar to learn how to use JibberJobber better. It is time!
Her points (read the article because she has more details):
Find Out The Next Step
Don’t Think The Worst
Use Your Common Sense
Leave A Great Follow Up Voicemail
Send A Thank You Letter
Include A ‘P.S.’ In Your Follow Up Letter
Send A Follow Up List Of Short Testimonials
Note three opportunities to FOLLOW-UP! As you follow-up, focus on potential long-term relationships, not just on a yes/no answer. Of course you want a yes/no answer, but if you change your mentality from “it’s a numbers game,” you’ll leave less casualties on your job search journey and strengthen your network size and depth (of relationships).
Attitude is so powerful, isn’t it? Just going through the motions without the right attitude will be detrimental (trust me, I did that).
I saw this blog post somewhere… I thought it was going to be a junky, unqualified article written by an entry level writer or someone who was writing nine points for SEO… but then I noticed it was written by Sultan Camp. Sultan works with veterans and helps them land their next gig. He’s a military recruiter. He’s definitely qualified to make these observations, and I know that he shares them in the spirit of helping you NOT make the mistakes he lists.
In her post, Jennifer suggests four steps (my comments after the bold):
1. Have a system for dealing with the business cards ASAP. I think “system” means process…. whether you have technology (like JibberJobber) or not, you need to have a process. My old process was to put a rubber band around the stack of business cards and put them in my desk…. not to be disturbed for months (when I coudln’t make heads or tails of any card). I even had a CRM, but it wasn’t a part of my business card process. What is your “system?” I suggest it isn’t “hide them in a dark, cold place right away!”
2. Connect with each person on LinkedIn. I’m on the fence on this one. Typically, I say that you should be very careful of this being your “first” contact with them. Obviously, to have gotten the card, you’ve already had a at least one communication. I think when you reach out after the event, though, you are almost starting over. You should remind them who you are, and maybe what you talked about. I think you can group your cards into two categories: (1) I don’t really care about this person, but I’m interested in connecting just to see who else I can meet through them, and (2) I really should nurture a relationship with this person. I encourage you to focus your time on getting cards and having conversations with the #2 people! Don’t waste too much time on #1 people! Anyway, as long as you recognize that getting a LinkedIn connection is not the ultimate goal, go ahead and connect with people. Too often, though, it becomes the final communication. Don’t let that happen.
3. Arrange follow-up meetings, where applicable. Going back to my #1 person or #2 person, you should hope to have a lot of people you want to follow-up with. For some this will be a phone call, for others it will be an email, or face-to-face… but start to stay in touch. The concept of “nurturing a relationship” is that there are multiple touch-points… which means that your follow-up will not be a one-time thing in your relationship. Start somewhere, and let it grow from there. Even if you feel uncomfortable making that first phone call (we all do).
4. Add these contacts to your tickler system.Tickler System must be Jennifer’s hidden code phrase for JibberJobber. Add these people to JibberJobber. JibberJobber is your tickler system. I find it interesting that she says to add them to LinkedIn, which a lot of people think is their contact system, and then says to add them to your tickler system. This is because LinkedIn is NOT your tickler system. It is a social network that has pros and cons. A “tickler system” is your roladex… it has private information and notes that you enter and track. When I was at the FBI they talked about “tickler” files. This was something that would somehow remind you of something you needed to do later. It “tickles” you. I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, but you need to put enough contact info (first name, last name, email, perhaps company) into JibberJobber, and create an Action Item to follow-up with them next week, or each quarter, or whatever, so you can nurture the relationship.
Great tips from Jennifer – are you doing any of them? Are you purposefully networking?
It’s true – if you are in a transition, and are not working right now, then your job search should be a full-time job. I got beat up on a radio show once by someone saying the average time a person spends on a job search, per week, is 10 hours. If you have responsibilities (bills, spouse, kids, etc.) then 10 hours a week is not enough. Especially if you are looking for a job that pays a lot (because it typically takes a long time to land those).
Bonnie continues, listing the things we’re “supposed” to do:
She listed things that I’ve heard over the last 8+ years… the “experts” will indeed claim you “have to” do these things. That’s one of the problems with so many “experts.” You’ll get advice that’s all over the place, and many of them say “you HAVE TO do this(, OR ELSE)!”
But we only have so much time. Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. Some of us will gravitate towards research (quiet, peaceful, stressless) while a very small group of others will actually pick up the phone and network. The extroverts will be fine to go to network meetings, others would rather stay in their pajamas, stay home and read and write blog posts. What’s the answer? What’s the best strategy?
I don’t know – I think it depends on YOU, your market, what you are looking for, etc. There are too many variables to say that everyone must do the same things… you need to figure out what your job search strategy should look like, and determine what from “the list” from experts, you keep, and what you throw away.
For example, I would put a Twitter strategy at the bottom of the list of tactics for most people (unless you are in marketing, and even then it’s questionable).
I would suggest you don’t spend too much time reading blog posts, because that can take a lot of time, and get too comfortable. Most people aren’t ready to start writing blog posts… they need to do a lot of other stuff first, before they write blog posts.
Just because an “expert” said you MUST do it doesn’t mean that you should spend time on it. Figure out what is best for you to do, and what will get closer to landing a job, and spend your time there.
Should you do it all? NO! Figure out your job search strategy, throw enough “me time” stuff in there to keep sane (like exercise, meditation, etc.), and take this step-by-step. And quickly stop doing things that are a waste of time (or, that don’t get you closer to landing the job you want/need).
I know it’s overwhelming. At some point, you have to turn the experts off and just start doing the right things to land your job.
Do your work upfront! Too many job seekers have very vague requests for help. Most vague requests are about as helpful as this: “I’m looking for a job.” Geesh! Can you tell me ANYTHING about you, what you’re looking for, what you want to do, etc.? I can’t help you if I don’t know if you want to be a lifeguard at the local rec center, or a CEO of a multi-national company! When you do your homework, you’ll know how I might be able to help you… and you’ll be able to have a better conversation. Ignore this at your own peril (or, extended job search).
DO NOT name drop… without permission. Hunter is kind of a big deal… and I’m sure has this happen all the time. If someone didn’t say “tell them I sent you,” then DON’T TELL THEM THEY SENT YOU! You can say “oh yeah, I know Jason…. I just read his blog post and ….” But don’t say “Jason sent you.” You will ruin your credibility and likely come across as a liar, perhaps ruining two relationships with one unfortunate white lie.
Don’t ask your contact for too much. If you want an introduction, make it super-easy for your contact to facilitate the introduction. This means you write something they could forward… why the introduction is happening, etc. Make it easy for them to forward something without thinking too much.
Follow-up with the person who made the introduction for you. It’s critical that you do this, if you want to improve relationships and get more introductions. When someone follows-up with me, no matter how good the meeting went (even if it didn’t happen), I can trust that the person I’m introducing will respect my contacts. I want to help more. If I don’t know what you are doing with my introductions, I am not inclined to give you more.
Keep the person posted about what’s going on. If you trust someone enough to ask for an introduction, and they trust you enough to do the introduction, why not keep them abreast of what’s going on, even outside of that introduction? Keep them posted perhaps monthly or quarterly…. stay on their radar. I wrote about this using a job seeker newsletter, which is a monthly email that I personally think every job seeker should have.
Too many people want to finish the job search and never, ever do it again. But the truth is, we will do it again… regularly. We need to figure out how to make this type of stuff be part of our DNA… how we work, how we communicate, etc. Whether you are looking for a job, funding, or customers, this is basic communication and networking stuff we need to internalize.