Interview by Jason Byer 2/16/2015
You have a variety of speaking engagements throughout the year, what areas of your preparation or execution do you attribute to your success.
My network and the relationships I’ve built are definitely the most important part of any success that I’ve had as a speaker, and a business leader. Since starting my own business in 2010, I’ve spoken at 50 – 75 events per year and the majority of those engagements happen because I was referred or contacted by someone in my network – often other speakers in my same niche. I don’t consider other speakers or consultants my competition. I may be the right person to speak at an event because of my perspective and experiences, or someone else may be because of their unique point of view and delivery.
Having said that, it’s important to follow up and be willing to raise your hand for opportunities that you may come across. Over the years, I’ve built up a list of events that may be good opportunities for me as a speaker and I review this list weekly to see if there are upcoming opportunities – usually about one year out. If so, I reach out to the event organizer, or someone in my network who can help me connect, to inquire about the possibility of speaking at their event. I’d say that more than half of the events I’m a part of come through referrals and maybe 25% from reaching out directly on my own. The other 25% would be from having a presence online – website, social media, search engines – where organizers looking for speakers on a certain topic find me.
Talent acquisition can be a direct reflection on you based on the recommended candidate to fill a top role. How do you help your client feel comfortable and trust the choice you have made for their organization?
The first step towards building trust with a client/hiring manager – internal or external – is to understand their needs. Often, this involves more than just a conversation or reviewing a job description. My approach as a recruiter has always been to understand the business, and how the role(s) I’m recruiting for fit into the big picture. Next, I want to understand the hiring manager and how this position fits into their team and helps them to accomplish their goals. Ideally, I’d also have the opportunity to talk with people on the team or who work in a similar role. Doing this type of research up front not only helps with identifying the best fit for the job, it also helps to build relationships – and trust. My clients feel like I understand their needs and want to help them be successful, which I truly do.
Experience is often quantified by years in an industry. While this can demonstrate strength and experience, how can younger executive candidates best demonstrate their skill and drive to overcome this metric?
My advice to anyone interviewing for a position is to ask great questions about the expectations and outcomes expected of the person who will be hired. By doing this, they can relate how they have accomplished similar results in the past. For example, someone who has never held a leadership title can demonstrate their leadership experience (and results) by talking about specific team projects that they’ve led, volunteer experience or leadership roles held in non-profit or community groups.
Ultimately, open positions in an organization are problems that need to be solved. Hiring managers are looking for the best solution to their problem and they feel more comfortable hiring those who’ve demonstrated similar results in the past. Knowing how to package your experience and communicate results is the best way to position yourself for growth opportunities.
Many candidates can be qualified for the same job based on experience alone. Is there an ideal way to communicate soft skills to employers like strong communication or time management without awkwardly listing out the skills?
Similar to the answer above, employers are primarily interested in results – not skills or experience. Anyone can list that they have experience in a particular area or have a certain skill. What is needed is translating how that experience or skill has delivered positive results in your work in the past. Are you a great communicator? How have you used your communication skills to rally a team to deliver exceptional results? Do you manage your time well? How does that help you to complete projects within expected timelines and under budget?
Always focus on results. That’s what will help you to stand out from others who either haven’t demonstrated results as impressive as yours – or who weren’t able to communicate them.
You can request a speaking engagement from Jennifer’s website.