Attended my first Triangle Networking Group (TNG) meeting tonite. Interesting group. Originally generated by some expatriated Nortel employees, the primary purpose is to look out for each other to secure jobs. I’d say about 80% of those there tonite were actively seeking employment.As one with gainful employmenet (at least for the time being — things can always change), my perspective was perhaps a little different. I’ve lived only four months of my life looking for work and not having any (although I had another four months trying to secure a job when the one I had was expiring), and I cannot imagine the pressure of having a family to support and no job. Some of the people seemed really beside themself. Each was asked to give their elevator speech, in 30 seconds or less.As a communications coach, I was saddened at the first impression most of these people gave. Most slouched. Many were not able to be heard in a room of 40 people. Most looked at their notebook. Only one moved. At least 5 ran out of time and never got to their punch line (they put the hook on you at 30 seconds) but gave meaningless back story or anecdotes. Over half began their 30 seconds of fame with “Hi, uh, I’m ____, and um, I want a job locally doing ____.” Other than the uncertainty conveyed with the um talk, the message is weak, and doesn’t convey value/benefit to the listener. Make yourself stand out. Order your message to have meaning to your audience. I can’t help but wonder what impression an interviewer gets when you tell them “my company offered a job in Timbuktu, but I wanted to stay in the south where it was warm, so that’s why I applied with you” (several actually brought up the weather as key in their job search — that may be true, but your potential hiring network doesn’t need to know — save that for your buddies at the poker table).

Your first impression should be strong. Your first message should have impact.

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