Writing a magazine article or editing an issue, leaving a fair bit of material on that proverbial “cutting room floor” is just a standard part of the process. Sometimes leaving stuff out hurts. Other times, not so much. In the case of Seth Moeller, a Class of 1989 alumnus I interviewed for an article on career services initiatives that will appear in the forthcoming issue of the magazine, it hurt.
Seth, who is president of KGA, a Framingham, Massachusetts based firm in the human resources business, has a long career in the field and a good deal of wisdom to share with current students and new grads as they enter the job market. He’s shared that wisdom with UVM classes and at career services events, and we also tried to pass along some of the same in the article for the next Quarterly.
One thing I didn’t have space for in the print version of the magazine, though, was Seth’s response to how a new grad should tackle that sometimes scary word “networking.” Here, with a little editing and, unfortunately, without Seth’s impassioned delivery over the phone, is what he had to say:
The seniors I meet with are interested in doing what I’m talking about. They understand the need to—they just don’t know what to say, they don’t know how to make an approach. Getting them over that hump is ridiculously easy. There’s nothing complicated about this other than putting it in motion.
They need to have some targets, career targets of interest. ‘I think I want to go into healthcare. I think I want to be in finance.’ Whatever it is. Career targets of interest with the understanding that those will evolve, they will be refined, there will be learning and those will dramatically change. But to enter the discussion you need to have some basic career targets of interest and you don’t need to be worried about whether or not they are the absolutely best target for you. That will evolve.
The next step is doing the basic homework around who is available to talk to. Reaching out to an alumni network, asking that that be made available, going back to the alumni you already know, or talk to the friends of family that you have in your life. The supporters are out there. It is about taking the initiative and identifying who you’ll talk to.
Third, it is about having a very simple story and a very simple request. The very simple story is saying ‘this is what I’m interested in and this is what I’m trying to learn.’ Elevator pitch—I hate those words. People try to pack too much into it, and it becomes too complicated for people. You don’t need to be in a time box to do it. It’s a couple of sentences, and then a request. Can I meet and talk with you about this because you’re in a career that’s relevant? Who do you know that perhaps I should speak with? Can you make an introduction?
That alone cracks open 80 percent of the networking process. Having a little bit of a story, identifying people, and then introducing yourself with a bit of a mission and then making clear requests. Everybody wants to help, but you can’t assume that they know how to help you. You have to help them do that.
There is networking within a nutshell.
Read more about Seth, multiple young alumni who have recently cracked a tough job market, and the new face of career services at UVM in the spring 2014 Vermont Quarterly, in the mail March 1.