By Mary Elizabeth Bradford
If you are a C-level executive considering a career transition, you may be thinking about ways to tap into your connections. As a member of the C-Suite, you may have a powerful and/or high profile network to potentially connect you with the right people and resources to start conversations. You may also be wondering about the right way to approach your network to demonstrate your respect for the relationships, your commitment to confidentiality and your confidence in yourself and your leadership approach.
In thinking about setting up these conversations for success, consider to make it easy for the people in your network to help. Here are some tips:
Approach Them Like The Leader You Are
Do you get a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think of asking your peers and colleagues whether they know of any opportunities or anyone who is hiring? Trust that instinct, because at your level, this question has more negative consequences than positive.
According to he Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 350,000 positions above the $250,000 salary mark are filled every month in the United States. That may be a lot of positions, but it simply isn’t reasonable to bank on one of your contacts knowing about these open positions. Asking that question puts a high expectation and a lot of pressure on our networks.
Instead, approach your network in a way demonstrating your leadership and your control of the situation. Give them the parameters you are looking within, and let them determine how they might be able to help you. You may say something like this:
John, I wanted to confidentially share with you that I am currently open to vetting COO or VP of Operations positions in industrial manufacturing. I am considering companies with a market cap of between $700M and $2B. I am now sharing this with my network.
Ask For An Endorsement
Another way of approaching your executive network is to ask for an endorsement:
John, I wanted to confidentially share with you that I am currently open to vetting COO or VP of Operations positions in industrial manufacturing. I am considering companies with a market cap of between $700M and $2B. To this end, I am updating my marketing collateral and putting together a page of endorsements. Would you consider writing me a one- or two-sentence statement that speaks to my ability in ____?
You can request your contacts speak to specific skills, such as strategic leadership, mergers and acquisitions, operations, restructurings, turnarounds or process improvements, to name a few.
Minimize Your Risk
Are you in a secret job search, or do you need to be discerning while tapping into your network? You might add something like this:
Would you mind keeping this information confidential for the time being? I would hate to upset my team simply by exploring alternatives.
Approaches like these are about mindset as much as strategy. The key is that they put you in the driver’s seat—which is the most natural place for you (a top executive) to be!
Mary Elizabeth Bradford is an executive resume writer and career strategist for VP to C-Level executives. Her offerings include executive resumes, Linkedin profiles, executive biographies, recruiter/private equity distributions and coaching. She works with individual executives and designs packages for executive corporate teams and corporate outplacement packages.