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You don’t know if you don’t ask: Part 2, The Strategy

Last week, I shared a client story about a young job seeker attempting to launch his career in the oil and gas industry using his geology degree. Happily he landed, shortly after we finished his resume project. (You can catch up HERE.)

Finding Balance by WoodleyWoinderWorks via Flickr

As promised, here is the strategy we used to connect with a high-level executive, in his target industry.

Flattery only works on two types of people: Men. And Women.

You laughed. (I heard you.) He did too. But, here’s what flattery looks like in a “buyer-driven”, “it’s all about them”, job market:

  1. He didn’t ask for a job. He asked for wisdom, and guidance, from an industry leader.
  2. He respected the executive’s time. He acknowledged a busy executive schedule and the fact “he” was a stranger.
  3. He didn’t clutter the “ask” with a lot of extraneous information. He got straight to the point.
  4. He gave permission to not respond. He used non-pressure language to politely ask for guidance, rather than expect or demand help with a job search.

Authentic respect is a form of flattery. So is taking the time to do a little research about the company and the executive’s place in the industry. Taking time to find out a name; yet another form of flattery. Subtle, genuine complimentary interactions usually deliver positive results; and can be uplifting on both ends of the telephone.

As I shared in the original post, his email netted a conversation, and an introduction to an industry mentor. Will this approach always produce positive results? Of course not, nothing in life comes with a sure-fire guarantee. However, this contact certainly lends credence to what I tell clients everyday: People are amazingly generous and usually willing to give a few moments to help someone along the way – if you’re polite, respectful, and specific in the ask.

Thank you industry leader, who shall remain un-identified, for your generosity.

The Email:

Subject Line: <Name of mutual connection> suggested I contact you for your expertise

Dear Mr. <Name>:

I graduated with a geology degree and am ready to launch my career as a geologist in the oil and gas industry. I was excited to learn, <name of mutual connection>, an associate of mine, has a relative in my dream industry.

As an industry leader, would you be willing to share a bit of insight into what oil and gas companies value in an employee? I know you’re a busy executive and I’m a complete stranger, but could you spare a few moments to answer some brief questions for me. I would greatly appreciate it.

  1. Are there any certifications or continuing education courses you would recommend to supplement my formal education?
  2. What skill is valued, above all others, when it comes to field geologists? I’ve read lots and lots of job postings and have a good idea of the role, but am wondering, what employee skill, or trait contributes most to success in this industry (and the success of the industry)?
  3. Would it be alright to connect with you via LinkedIn?

Thank you for taking a moment to consider my request, and hopefully look forward to receiving your insights.


<My Client’s Name>

Creating, expanding, engaging, nurturing, and occasionally tapping into  a network isn’t really as daunting as it seems.

I write frequently about networking. Here are the results of a “networking” search on my blog with links to lots of posts delving into the hows and whys.

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