Why job seekers should attend irrelevant networking events

I don’t know how many career counseling clients I have had who, before coming to me, would spend their time “networking” at events for job seekers. Obviously a mistake.

That said, attending events that are not in your industry, and may appear to be of no value to you, may, in fact, be worthwhile to attend if professionals will be in attendance.

For example, I co-chair the Entrepreneurship Council of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. The other night we had an event about securing funding. It was, obviously, aimed at business owners. Imagine my surprise when one of the Angel investors on the panel recommended posting resumes on the website, www.angel.co. (That’s not a typo; it’s .co not .com.)

If you go to the site you will see that it appears to be aimed at people who want to work for startups. But the impression I got was that it is used by Angels looking for good people.

Why not give it – and some irrelevant professional events – a try?!

This Will Guarantee You a Successful Elevator Pitch

A reader wrote asking me to write about elevator pitches. He said he had difficulty knowing how to reply in an interview when the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself.”

The first thing I told him was that an elevator pitch is for networking and has nothing to do with interviewing or with “Tell me about yourself,” which I have dealt with in a previous article. Then I promised to write this article.

So let’s look at the elevator pitch.

This is how the concept was first explained to me. Feel free to change the genders around; it makes no difference:

A woman gets into an elevator. A man rushes in just as the doors are closing. He presses the tenth floor button, and notices that the second floor button has already been pressed. He then realizes that there is only one other person in the elevator, an attractive woman. She’s exiting in, at best,10 seconds. That’s is how much time he has to win her over. That’s the elevator pitch.

You have 10 seconds to impress. What makes it difficult is that you don’t know your audience. Does the person care about business or something from their personal life? What should you say? What shouldn’t you say? Will a compliment be appreciated or rejected?

First, think of where you are. Since LinkedIn is (still) a business site, let’s assume we are at a business event. All business events are networking events so asking someone what they do for a living is appropriate. Here’s the scenario:

Good morning. I’m Bruce.

Hi! I’m Sally.

So what brings you here at this ungodly hour?

This is not the elevator pitch. This is the setup to the elevator pitch.


What business are you in?

Now this is her elevator pitch.

I own a security company.

Perfect. Now I know what to say.

We almost have something in common. I’m an executive recruiter. The mission of my company is to promote the hiring of veterans.

And then I hand her my card and shut up. She knows what I am telling her. I don’t have to explain it.

But let’s reverse the scenario. What if Sally approaches me? I don’t know anything about her so how can I know what to tell her?

It’s called the truth. Just be general about it. I would respond, “I’m an executive recruiter and career counselor,” and hand her my card. If she looks at it she will see my mission statement, so I don’t have to mention veterans. The important thing is for me to immediately ask her, “And what about you? What do you do?” Then the conversation will begin about veterans and how we can help each other.

All an elevator pitch is, is an opening to a conversation. You can either do what Sally did and just make a general statement about your business or profession. Or you can do what I did, and add something unique – promoting the hiring of veterans.

Now a conversation will hopefully begin. Usually, because mission statements are generally meaningless, I am asked, “So how do you promote the hiring of veterans?” And there is sometimes a bit of sarcasm with emphasis on “how” or “you” or “promote.” I just smile and say, “By lowering my fee by a third to 10 percent when the candidate is a vet.” That ends the sarcasm and the conversation continues.

And that is how it is done. An elevator pitch is nothing more than how you define yourself. In a professional setting, it’s a professional definition. In an elevator, I don’t know! And if you can’t do that in ten seconds, you have got bigger problems than networking!

Please do not misunderstand me. Believe me. I have worked with enough career counseling clients, teaching them how to network, to know that this can be very difficult for people because they have done so much in their lives that they do not know on what to focus. It can seem daunting, but it really isn’t. One amusing story will hopefully put things in perspective.

A woman came over to me at a networking event. She asked me what I did for a living and after I told her I asked, “And what about you?” She looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m a social worker.” At this stage we exchanged business cards. I looked at hers and said, “I think you gave me the wrong card,” and handed it back to her. She said, “No. That’s my card, I sell real estate.” I told her that it must really have been a long day because I could have sworn she had said she was a social worker. She confirmed that I had heard her correctly. “I’m confused,” I admitted. “I’m an MSW,” she said. “So you just graduated and are looking to start a new career. Good for you,” I replied. “No,” she said. “I graduated 30 years ago.” “How long have you been a real estate agent?” “I’m celebrating my 20th anniversary with the company!”

And that, dear readers, is a woman who does not have a clue about elevator pitches or, for that matter, networking.


Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter, career counselor and business advisor. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over a quarter of a million times and have garnered national and international media attention.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

8 Steps for Successful Networking for Shy People

No news here:  You cannot find a new job without networking.  You have no choice in the matter.  Yet many job seekers are so shy that the very idea of going to a networking event where they will have to introduce themselves to strangers results in a panic attack.  Sorry, but you have to get over it!

I have eight simple steps for successfully networking for those people who would rather have root canal without anesthesia:

Step One:  Know who you are:

You have to be able to introduce yourself to someone in less than 10 seconds. It’s the classic elevator pitch.  The shy have an advantage in that they are so scared that they don’t want to talk a lot, unlike those who are not the least bit intimidated introducing themselves to strangers.  They often come across as obnoxious and self-centered because all they want to do is talk about themselves.

Keep it really short.  Simply state your profession.  Don’t say that you are unemployed.  Don’t praise yourself.   None of this, “I’m an award winning…” nonsense.  No one cares!  But add something unique.  For example, “Hi.  I’m Bruce.  I’m an executive recruiter and career counselor.  I work with everyone but the mission of my company is to promote the hiring of veterans.”  The idea is for you to provide information for the start of a real conversation.

Now comes the important part: Listening.

Step Two:  Know your audience:

You keep your introduction short because you do not know what to say.  How can you?  You don’t know anything about the person to whom you are talking.  Therefore, your next step is to ask, “What do you do?”  Based on the answer, you will know how to continue introducing yourself.

Step Three:  Know what you want:

Just as a business owner networks to get new business, a job seeker networks to find their next job.  But networking is not about exchanging business cards.  That is not networking.  Networking is building relationships and that takes time.  So your aim in networking is to find people who may be able to assist you.

No one is going to stick their neck out for a stranger.  No one is going to go to their boss and say, “I met a guy last night.  He’s looking for work.  Do we have anything?  He seems nice.”  It’s not going to happen.  What may happen is that once a person trusts that you will not embarrass them, then they will make introductions.  It’s a process.  It takes time.

So when meeting someone for the first time, all you want is to see if there is a reason to start building a relationship.  Simply put, is it worth inviting them out for a cup of coffee?  If it is, do it.  And remember, most people fail in their networking activities because they do not follow-up.  If you ask someone for help or advice, and they provide it, do what they say otherwise they will not help you in the future.  And then keep in touch so they know the results.  Never be afraid to ask someone for advice.  It’s a compliment.

For example, Jane tells you to contact Joe.  Send the e-mail.  Tell Jane you sent it.  If you hear back from Joe, let her know about it and what has happened.  If you don’t hear from him, contact Jane and ask for advice on how to proceed.  She can’t help you if she does not know what is happening.

Of course, you can’t build a relationship if you are silenced by shyness.  So here are five simple steps to overcoming your shyness at events.

Step One:  Arrive early. If you are the first to arrive, two things will happen.  First, the host (see Step Two) will have to speak with you and will have to introduce you to the second person to arrive.  Second, the next person to arrive will have no choice but to talk to you because you are the only one there!  That will make it easier for you to talk to the next person to arrive.

Step Two:  Find the organizer/host and introduce yourself.  Thank them for the invitation.  They will be busy and will have no choice but to introduce you to one or more attendees.

Step Three:  Find your own kind.  Shy people can always recognize other shy people. They are the ones staring out the window pretending to be interested in the view.  Go over and introduce yourself.  They will appreciate it.

Step Four:  Set a goal.  When you arrive promise yourself that you will not leave until you have collected a certain number of business cards.  At the first networking event that I attended after I started my business I set a goal for myself of collecting five business cards.  Yes, I was very shy.  That’s why I know this process that I am presenting works.  It worked for me.   In any case, it took me three hours to get those five cards.  Next event the goal was 10 cards and it only took me about an hour.  Now I can leave an event with as many cards as I want.  Practice makes perfect.  And nothing succeeds like success.  Which brings me to…

Step Five:  Follow-up.  As already noted, networking is building relationships.  That is why follow-up is so critical.  You have to do something with all of those business cards you are collecting.  If you really like someone and think they can help you, call them the next day and invite them for a cup of coffee.  If you kind of like them, send them an e-mail asking when you can get together.  If they don’t respond, then you know that it would be a waste of your time meeting them.  You want to focus on those people who can help you.  Rude people can’t help you!

One last note:  When you meet someone, always end the conversation by asking how you can be of assistance to them.  Thank them and wait.  If they do not reciprocate, if they don’t ask how they can help you, you know you don’t have to bother calling or e-mailing them.  They are only interested in themselves and clearly do not know what they are doing.

Is Stress Exasperating Your Job Search?

January 14, 2016 – 8:30 – 10:00 AM  Cost: $10.00
The Gunnet-Shoval Group
630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, New York, NY   (Across from St.  Patrick’s Cathedral.)

Stress is the combination of a perceived threat — whether real or imagined — and one that feels beyond control.  Few things are more stressful than coping with unemployment.  Few things are more dangerous to conducting a successful job search than allowing stress to overcome you.  There are, however, ways to take control of your stress thus preventing it from taking control of you.

On January 14, Drs.  Karyn Gunnet-Shoval and Bruce Hurwitz will conduct a 90-minute workshop designed to help participants manage job search-related emotion and replace it with logical and purposeful decision making.

This event is limited to the first 20 people to register, so register today!

Feel free to bring your own hot beverage and breakfast.  All attendees will receive a free copy of the e-book edition of Bruce Hurwitz’s book, A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Executive Recruiting and Career Counseling.

Meet the Speakers

Karyn Gunnet-Shoval, Ph.D., of The Gunnet-Shoval Group, coaches companies, executives, Human Resources professionals, and individuals to create a culture of improved stress management.  With fellowship experience in stress-related issues and interventions at Yale School of Medicine, and a Ph.D.  in Counseling Psychology, Karyn understands stress and stress management. As an executive coach, Karyn coaches businesses, HR teams, attorneys, business executives, professors and other professionals and their clients to better manage the stress of time management, clients and colleagues, communications, among other issues.  Working as a Group Leader with employees of a company or nonprofit, Karyn tailors stress management coaching to fit individual and company needs.  Participants develop skills to enhance confidence, happiness, productivity and effectiveness.  And as a Human Resources trainer, she works with HR professionals in the area of stress management, leading workshops and seminars and creating company plans.  Supervisors report improved employee happiness, attendance and productivity.

Bruce A.  Hurwitz, Ph.D., President and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., whose mission it is to promote the hiring of veterans, has been an executive recruiter since 2003.  The author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting, he is a recognized authority on career counseling, recruitment, and employment issues, having been cited in over 600 articles, appearing in close to 400 publications, across the United States and in 23 foreign countries.  Bruce is an honors graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from where he obtained his doctoral degree in International Relations, majoring in International Law.  He is the author of over 120 publications including peer-reviewed books, journal articles and reviews, as well as newspaper and magazine contributions.  In addition to serving as an Ambassador for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and hosting their weekly podcast, The Voice of Manhattan Business, since January, 2015, he has been a member of their Board of Directors and Co-Chair of their Entrepreneurs Network.  He has a total of over 51,000 followers to his posts on LinkedIn Pulse and his own blog, Employment Edification, as well as his YouTube videos/webinars and on Twitter.  He also hosts his own podcast, Bruce Hurwitz Presents!

5 Simple Rules for Succeeding at Job Fairs

I have attended well over a dozen job fairs since I started my company five years ago. Every year I attend fewer and fewer. Now I am down to one. For me, they are a waste, because attendees do not know what to do. So let me give job seekers a few simple rules to make job fairs beneficial.

1)  First and foremost, set reasonable expectations. CEO positions are not presented at job fairs. Entry- and mid-level positions are what you will find. There will be scores, possibly hundreds, and maybe (for me it was a job fair for veterans) thousands of attendees. A meaningful conversation will not take place. The most that you can hope for is to receive an application form and drop off your resume (although most will want it e-mailed).

2)  Look like a professional. It boggles the mind how many people go to job fairs dressed like they are on their way to the mall. Dress like a professional. When you are at a job fair, you are marketing you! The way you market yourself tells an employer everything they need to know about how you will market them!

3)  Follow-up. Always take the business card of the person you meet. Always write on the back of it something they told you specifically about their company. If they asked you to e-mail them your resume, do it that day. When you send the resume, mention what they told you, what you wrote on the back of their card, so that they know you were listening and that you are not sending them a form e-mail.

4)  Build your network. Even if you are not interested in any of the positions they are promoting, that does not mean there are not others or that there won’t be others in the future. A job fair is a great way to build your network. Send an e-mail to every employer you meet. Thank them for taking the time to tell you about their company. Tell them you were interested in what they had to say and, as just mentioned, mention what they told you, what you wrote on the back of their card, so that they know you were listening and that you are not sending them a form e-mail. In this case, you want to ask for a 10-minute informational meeting to learn more about their company, industry or profession, as the case may be.

5) Practice your pitch. Lastly, even if the fair is a complete waste of time with no suitable jobs being promoted and no companies for which you would like to work attending, you can still make it worthwhile. Simply practice your pitch. Get used to explaining who you are and in what type of job you are interested. Practice really does make perfect. When you finally meet the right employer, with the right job, you will deliver your pitch with confidence. There is nothing more appealing to an employer than a confident candidate.

10 Rules for Successfully Using LinkedIn

1. Verify the credentials of so-called “experts” by confirming their number of followers and first-degree connections, and viewing their profile.
2. Fraudulent endorsements, and especially recommendations, may lead to legal issues with the FTC or SEC since a profile with a recommendation may be considered an advertisement.
3. It may be illegal for employers and recruiters to view profiles when choosing possible candidates for employment, so focus on location, industry and keywords.
4. Profiles may be viewed once possible candidates have been chosen, so make your profile multi-media and do not include personal information.
5. Posts are the best way to promote yourself and to gauge your level of success by your number of followers, clicks, likes and comments. End posts with a blurb about yourself including links to websites. Include tags to help LinkedIn determine the relevant group in which to feature your post. Once the post has gone live, tweet it to your social media networks using a service such as HootSuite.com. Make certain that your posts are visible to the general public and not just to your first-degree connections.
6. After your profession in the professional headline, include a notice, such as “Open to New Opportunities” (for job seekers) or your tag line (for a company). If you are not looking for a job, and only representing yourself, only include your profession. Remember, your employer will be able to see this so don’t announce you are looking for a job if you don’t want the boss to know!
7. The more information in your profile, the easier it will be for you to be found.
8. Use your corporate profile to promote corporate activities.
9. Only share professional updates; personal or “cutesy” updates reflect poorly on you as a professional and are not suitable for LinkedIn.
10. The more people in your network the greater your visibility and influence.

Want to learn more?  Come to my presentation at the Science, Industry and Business Library, 188 Madison Avenue (@ 34th Street), New York, NY, Thursday, April 23 at Noon.  I’ll be speaking on  “Using LinkedIn to Get a Job,” but it will also be relevant for entrepreneurs.

Five Steps to Career Change

If there has been one question I have received more than any other during the past few weeks it’s, How do I change careers? My answer: You don’t. Someone else has to do it for you! Why? Because changing careers requires networking. You need help.

Here are my five steps to career change.

First, don’t quit your day job. As difficult as it is to get a new job while unemployed, it is exponentially more difficult to change careers if not presently employed. It’s possible, just more difficult.

Second, research. Find out everything you can about your chosen new career. That way, when you start networking, the people in your chosen career will be impressed with your knowledge.

Third, look at the LinkedIn profiles of the people who have careers similar to the one you want. Pay special attention to their education. If they have a degree or certification that you will require, get it. When choosing the school or program you plan to attend, base the decision not so much on the quality of their classes but on the quality of their job placement services. Then, once you graduate, use them to find internships and, ultimately, jobs.

Fourth, join groups where you will be able to meet persons in your chosen career. Look for mentors. By “mentor” I mean someone who will help guide you in your new career for free. If they charge, they are consultants and you’ll pay a fortune for limited, if any, results. You want someone who will take you under their wings, so to speak, offer constructive criticism and introduce you to the right people.

And fifth, volunteer. It does not matter what the cause is, as long as you truly believe in it. What is most important is that you serve on a committee, or in a role, where your new skills will be utilized and, most importantly, seen by people in your new career or industry. That way they will be able to help you navigate their networks or, ideally, maybe even offer you a job, once they have personally seen the quality of your work.

In conclusion, career changing is not for the shy or the lazy. It takes help and it takes work.


Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor.  He is the author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting