Every job search starts somewhere. Some people start with the tools – a resume, a LinkedIn profile. Other people start with the target. Where you start depends on you. But everyone starts with a single step.
A client sent a note. He identified a target company but was unsure how to approach. The target is a venture capital holding company focused on electronics and food stuff. My client is interested in electronics manufacturing.
So how should he approach the target company? I like to start with research.
Here are some simple steps to research and approach a target company:
- Find and read the website. Make a list of all people you find. Check out the management team if they provide that information. Make a note of contact information in case you want it. How long have the people been in place? Who owns the company? Any board members noted? Any notable press releases or articles posted?
- Find the LinkedIn Company page and read it. Any notable press releases or articles posted? Make a note of some to comment on.
- See how you are connected. On the company page in the upper right hand corner find the “How You’re Connected” box. See how many employees are connected to you. Then click on the “See all” link, often highlighted in blue. This will open a list of all employees on LinkedIn who currently or previously worked at your target company. Make a list of the names and titles of people who work in the job you want or are in senior management. How long have the people been there? What conclusions can you come to if many folks have recently been hired or have been there for a long time?
- “People also Viewed” on the company page. On the middle right hand side check out the “People Also Viewed” section. These are companies that are similar to your target company. Make a note of these companies.
- Check out individual LinkedIn profiles of the people in leadership roles that you found in your research. What do you have in common with any of them? Which of these folks are serious LinkedIn users with more than 500+ connections? These are the folks to focus on because they are likely to respond to your inquiries. What groups do these folks belong to? Can you join these groups or are you already a member of some of these groups?
- “People also viewed” from individual profiles. Check out the section on the individual profiles on the right side called “People Also Viewed”. These are people who hold similar kinds of jobs are the person you are looking at. These might be more leads into similar companies.
- Cross reference your list of names on Facebook, Google+ and Google to see if you can find any other information that might be helpful to your relationship building.
- Now start connecting. Identify the people from your research who are likely to be helpful. These are people in key leadership roles in your target company or people who are currently doing the job you want who can be potential allies. Find something that you have in common with these people. Send personalized invitations to connect noting what you have in common.
Don’t talk about your job search; just point to something in common (an article the person wrote, a school attended, a job concept the person notes on his / her profile).
Be on the lookout for the note indicating the person accepted your invitation. When that happens you want to send a message about the thing you have in common. Your goal is an extended email conversation to build a relationship. Then you can ask for coffee and have a fuller conversation. At the end of this relationship building process you can talk about yourself but not until later.
The research on your target company should yield plenty of people at that company and at other similar companies that you can connect with and start relationship building conversations. Keep track of your progress. Set goals for people to talk to and coffee to schedule. Ask each person you meet for names of other people.