Whether you are actively searching for a new position or simply want to keep your finger on the pulse of the job market, forging relationships with executive search consultants is an essential part of a successful career strategy.
Networking is a two-way street.
Remember, you need to create reciprocal relationships with recruiters. Approach a search consultant with the same attitude of building a mutually beneficial connection as you would when introducing yourself to any other executive for the first time.
If you meet an executive search consultant face-to-face at a conference or networking event, inquire about his or her business. Ask if he or she has a specialized area of focus. Even if the search consultant is not currently working on any mandates for which you might be qualified or interested in, make sure to indicate your willingness to be a source of potential candidates or industry knowledge.
The same advice applies if are sending an introductory email to an executive search consultant. After mentioning any common connections and demonstrating your value proposition via a brief list of key achievements, convey an attitude of cooperation and willingness to help put the consultant in touch with other executives when appropriate.
Have your elevator pitch ready.
In person or via email, be able to succinctly describe your professional history, what you do now and what you are looking for in your next role. Speak (or write) clearly and to the point. Do not squander this chance to make a good first impression by asking for help in deciding your next career move, assistance with your resume or request general interviewing tips. Search consultants are not career coaches or executive resume writers. Keep this part of the conversation focused on your prior achievements and future goals. Say what you have to say, and then wait and allow the search consultant to let you know if he or she can help market your experience effectively.
Keep in touch and stay current.
After the initial meeting or phone conversation, reach out to the search consultant every six weeks or so if you are actively searching for a role and perhaps a few times a year if you just want to stay on his or her radar screen.
Relax and be yourself.
Too often the term networking conjures up images in people’s minds of robotically establishing connections without any real underlying personal relationship. This could not be further from the truth. While you do need to be strategic and professional, don’t be afraid to let your own personality come out. Make sure to talk about what attracted you to your industry in the first place, the changes that are most exciting to you or the corporate culture that fits best with your leadership style. Don’t try to be all things to all people. As in any relationship, you will find that enthusiasm and sincerity go a long way in forging long-term partnerships with executive search consultants.
For more on this topic, register for our upcoming free webinar: How to Network With Executive Search Consultants.