Thursday, September 13, 2007

Publishing a Job Search Newsletter

Over the past few months, I've been "publishing" a mini newsletter to keep friends, family, colleagues, and my networking contacts updated on the progress of my job search. It's been somewhat controversial, but it's also been wildly successful. I learned long ago in public relations that it's OK to be controversial if it helps you achieve your goals.

It was Ford Myers of Career Potential who suggested that I put out a mini newsletter once my job search networking reached a critical mass. I'm glad I took his advice.

When I sent my first issue, a third of the people sent me a reply (an incredible response by the standards of e-mail marketing) -- offering me encouragement, giving me a referral to a contact of theirs, asking me for a connection to someone I had met, or thanking me for the ideas I wrote about. It was that response that prompted me to start this blog.

I don't always get that sort of response from my mini newsletter, but I'm always amazed at the opportunities it does bring to me. I've been asked to speak about networking (I'm always happy to speak). People have forwarded my newsletter to their colleagues, who have then contacted me (I like people seeking me out, rather than me having to do all the seeking). I get consulting and freelance work from it (I'm always happy to take consulting and freelance work, too).

Most of all, the mini newsletter helps me keep in touch with people who have expressed interest in my job search. I've met hundreds of people in the past few months, and it is easy to lose track of people and forget to keep them up-to-date. My mini newsletter is a way of re-establishing a connection and keeping me top-of-mind with my networking contacts.

Here are my four secrets to publishing a job search newsletter:

  • Keep it interesting and engaging. Not even your mother wants to be bored by your whining. Write about the things you've learned that have gotten you excited. When you are out networking, talking to people, looking for a new job, you are probably finding out about new things far in advance of anybody else. Share what you've learned.

  • It's not all about you. Well, it is about you, but what I mean is that a successful newsletter serves the needs of its readers. You have to keep your audience in mind. You want to get their interest, so write something they will find interesting. In some sense, you are creating a community of people (albeit one focused on helping you), so look at your newsletter as something that serves your growing community.

  • Offer to help. Ask for help. I've been talking in this blog about how networking becomes most valuable when you are offering to help the people you meet rather than just looking for their help. It works the same way here. Also, never miss an opportunity to ask for specific assistance -- a company you want to network into, a question you want to get answered, etc. You would be amazed what your friends know that you don't know. Ask and you shall receive.

  • Don't send it to everybody. Nobody likes spam. Make sure the people on your list will want to be getting your newsletter. In my networking, I've been referred to a lot of new people. I don't send these people my newsletter until I've spoken with them directly, either in person of by phone, and there was a mutual interest established. There are also a few people I've connected with solely via LinkedIn, and I wrestled about including them. I finally decided to send them their first copy of the mini newsletter with a personalized e-mail, explaining what I was doing, and offering to remove them from the mailing list if they wanted. (In fact, I make that offer in every mini newsletter. So far, no one has asked.)

Some of the more tech-savvy among my friends have asked me why I continue the mini newsletter now that I have a blog. I see the two of them serving different purposes. For one, this blog is more of an open conversation to anyone interested in networking. The mini newsletter is more about me and it is a direct conversation with people I have a personal connection to.

I encourage you to publish a job search newsletter. (Send me an e-mail at picher2007 AT comcast DOT net and I'll send you a copy of my newsletter, if you are curious.)

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