Your Inner Circle Club

By Frank Traditi

The phone rings. You pick it up and the person on the other end says, "Hi Susan, this is Jennifer Smith. Do you remember me?"

In an instant, you're transported back in time. It's an old friend and work buddy you lost touch with years ago. In fact, too many to remember. The conversation is lively and filled with great memories about the time you worked together at ABC Company and all the fun you had. You reminisce about special times and now laugh about what you though were, at the time, such big problems.

Has this ever happened to you? An old friend, acquaintance, work colleague, former boss, family member, college roommate, or maybe a former business partner, decides to reconnect with you. In just a few seconds, you move into the comfort zone and you feel free to talk about almost anything. It feels like the connection wasn't ever broken, even if you haven't communicated with each other for weeks, months, or possibly years. That bond was so strong, it's as if you were just talking with them yesterday.

These people hold a special place in your life - they are your Inner Circle Club.

Your inner circle club is your closest contacts (even if you haven't spoken with them for a long time) who know what you do for a living. They are close enough to know what you excel at, some or all of the companies you've worked for, have some level a personal connection with you, and are aware of your next career move.

Often times job seekers don't take the time to build or re-build these connections when they find themselves in job search mode. They may feel embarrassed to talk about their situation fearing of what they might think. "Will they think I'm a loser for getting laid off?" "What will they say to me when I tell them I've been looking for six months and still no job offers?" "I was a successful business person and now look at me - I can't even get an interview."

This is the old familiar inner critic sabotaging your motivation to reconnect with the people who could potential lead you to the job you want. Instead, it's easier to hunker down and look for jobs on the Internet. Missing out on the gold mine of opportunity buried within your inner circle club of contacts.

If you find yourself in this situation, and haven't fully developed your inner circle club yet, here's a three-part plan you can launch immediately. And, it's easy and fun.

First, let's identify who might qualify to be in your inner circle club. Take out a pen and paper or open a blank document in your word processor or spreadsheet program and write down the names of people who fall into these categories:

  • Someone you can call any time and have an open and frank conversation about your job search
  • A person you haven't spoken with in a long time and instantly reconnect at a deep level
  • Any work colleague you felt close to
  • Family members and close friends
  • Exercise or hobby partners
  • People you have helped out in the past
  • Community leaders with whom you have a close connection
  • Former bosses (the ones you got along with)
  • Former employees (yes, they can help you)
  • Neighbors

The category list doesn't end here. Think of anyone in your past (or present) life you've lost touch with or definitely needs to know about your current situation and put him or her on the list.

Next to each name on your inner circle club, write down a Yes or No notating if they are fully aware of your career or job search intentions.

The next step is to organize all of your contact information for your inner circle. From the list of names you just created, insert the current contact information you have for each person. You may have to look in several places if you don't have a single source for your contact information. Business cards, computer programs, lists, sticky note pads, legal pads, cocktail napkins are potential sources for contact information.

One of my clients took on the task of creating his inner circle list and couldn't believe what he found. Over 85 people made it to the list. As he started to think about past relationships - work related and personal - the names just flew on to the page. And, well over 80% of his inner circle had no idea he is pursuing a career move.

You may find your information is out of date or non-existent. Write down what you have now. As you start your campaign of reconnecting with your inner circle, you may find that other inner circle members may have their most current contact information. You may also try to "Google" them. Go to the popular search engine - and type their name into the search box. Look through all of the results and you might find information leading you to them.

Now, it's time to get the word out. Start with all the "no's" on your list. This group is unaware of your current career situation or has limited information. In fact, they might think (if you haven't spoken with them in a while) that you are still working for a company you have long since departed. The best initial contact method is by phone. Remember, this is a warm phone call. You are not speaking with a stranger. Even if you've lost touch, the excitement of reconnecting will be a wonderful experience. We all love to hear from people we've lost touch with. If you don't have phone numbers, email and/or a personal letter will work fine.

This is a perfect opportunity to test out, or refine, your ten-second introduction and thirty-second commercial. The goal of your call is to inform the inner circle members about your current situation and what you are planning to do for your next career move. Every member needs to know exactly what you do and what you are looking for in your job search. That way, they can make recommendations, introduce you to someone their network, or potentially lead you to a hiring manager.

Continue with the "yeses" on your list. Since these folks already have some baseline knowledge of your career intentions, you'll want to update them on any new information since you've spoken last. Perhaps you've decided to change careers, selected a targeted list of companies, or even open your own business. Whatever it is, your inner circle club needs to know.

As you continue to build your list, you'll find new members coming on board. These new members are the connections you've made as a result of harvesting your relationships with your inner circle club. The wider the range of your inner circle, the closer you get to finding and landing the ultimate job or career.

Join the club! Copyright © 2005, Frank Traditi

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