World Science Day and Exponential Careers- Is HR really ready?

From the UNESCO Director General’s message…

This World Science Day for Peace and Development comes two months after agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentThis new agenda embodies a new vision for humanity, for the planet, for peace, for the next 15 years – science stands at its heart as a force for positive transformation and a development multiplier… 

…to make the most of this power, we need to understand more clearly the global landscape of science and we need better tools to monitor progress.

World Science Day was last week, and it got me thinking about some of the opportunities we have in HR to take the lead and do what we’ve always aspired to do – build great organizations with incredible workforces, smart people and great careers.  Even if we don’t work for a science-based organization, science and technology drive just about everything we do, and in particular, they increasingly drive the change velocity of millions of careers; velocities that make HR tools designed to help people navigate their careers seem hopelessly dated – job descriptions, career paths, competency models, traditional training and mentoring programs, to name just a few.

Careers are moving at a velocity that people simply can’t keep up with.  Job descriptions are inaccurate the day after they’re written, and competency models are obsolete before the consultant cashes the check. Traditional one-on-one mentoring doesn’t work, isn’t scalable and is often uncomfortable.  Real mentoring takes a village.  No one mentor can possibly help navigate all of the options that exist in today’s careers, particularly science and technology careers.

We need new tools.  Tools that deal with exponential careers – careers driven by ever-accelerating change velocities, work technologies, collaborative requirements, business models and competitive landscapes. Managing a career effectively has two major components – the what (content), and navigating to the what.  Tools like Lynda and Cornerstone do an OK job of serving up the what, but figuring out which what to focus on is the real challenge.  Tools like do this better – with IBM Watson-curated content and blindly empirical success profiles. This way, content can be delivered in ways that help people understand the which what better, to explore their next steps (the “adjacent possible”) and plan the longer arc of their career in engaging, self-navigated ways.  Likewise, companies like Ramco Systems (the best HRMS software you’ve probably never heard of), are disintermediating static competency models with dynamic algorithm-driven, crowd-sourced tagging models.

We need to embrace the composite workforce.  While more than a third of today’s workforce is comprised of temps, freelancers, contractors, consultants and other enterprising and absolutely legitimate work models, organizations (and their HR teams) still manage through the lens of traditional employees.  Composite workforce arrangements aren’t limited to just Uber drivers.  Increasingly, scientists, technologists, creatives and others find these work arrangements to be vastly more consistent with their career- and life-goals.  In short, they offer workforce participants the opportunity to do their best work, and traditional employment doesn’t.  This is the reality, yet too many in HR focus on the traditionally employed and leave everyone else to Accounts Payable. Policy, practice and leadership behavior all have to focus on a single workforce, regardless of what the employment arrangement is.

And while we’re on the topic of Uber drivers, where is HR’s voice on this?  New and innovative business models continue to be saddled with outdated employment laws even over the objections of the people being “protected.”  There have to be ways for people to choose a freelance career and still be offered reasonable protections, and HR professionals should be figuring out how to connect the dots.  Disruptive business models like Uber, and innovative HR platforms like PTO Exchange, really do describe the future of work.

We need to create diversity, not just embrace it.  Too many organizations still suffer from three diversity-destroying biases:

  • Shiny pennies.  Resumes always look better than real people.  We make it way too easy to manage your career by leaving, rather than by staying;
  • Round pegs.  We look for exact fits, particularly when the last person in the role was “perfect”.  This may feel safe, but unless we advocate for diversity of ideas, skill-sets and approaches, the organizations we look after will calcify and die.
  • Pariahs.  Former employees should be treated like alumni, not defectors.  At one science-based company we’re familiar with, 900 ex-employees were asked “would you come back?”  87% said yes.  Why wouldn’t a talent-short organization see this as a resource instead of the more common “You left.  You’re dead to me.”

We’re in an era where science and technology are making fairly substantial dents in the universe.  If we go beyond just thinking differently, and push our organizations to execute on ideas, experiment more, and take a bit more risk, we have a huge opportunity to build truly great organizations.


-Tom Connolly, CEO of GattiHR, LinkedIn

GattiHR is the parent company of leading recruiting firms Gatti & Associates and Armstrong Franklin.

Why Can’t The Workplace Run Like Fantasy Football?

Why Can’t the Workplace Run Like Fantasy Football?

By James Minger, Associate at Gatti & Associate’s sister company, Armstrong Franklin | LinkedIn


So, the pundits have spoken – by 2020, the majority of the U.S. workforce will be free agents.  That’s right, we’ll be a nation of Uber-delivered engineers, scientists, teachers, technicians and customer service reps.  Financial analysts by Task Rabbit.  Neurosurgery by Kelly Services.  Organizations everywhere seem to be embracing and even preparing for this.  Here comes the great talent commoditization wave, where people are simply plug-and-play bundles of skillsets.

Of course, this has been the “hook” for generations of sports statistics buffs – an artificial world, where every situation has been anticipated and ruled on and where every shred of performance can be reduced to a number.  Add a few teraflops of computing power and viola! – Hypothetical teams, playing hypothetical games, with hypothetical outcomes that people are now paying millions of dollars to participate in.

We get the attraction.   Wouldn’t it be great if we could run an entire economy this way?  With the data-fication of everything, isn’t it logical to think that a full-blown workforce-on-demand is right around the corner?  Like most over-the-top prognostications, there is a major dose of truth in all of this, but as usual, the reality will probably be somewhere in the middle.  Great companies will run on a combination of traditional employees, contractors, temps, consultants and free agents of all sorts, but the mix will change pretty dramatically.

The pundits have gotten our attention by radicalizing an old idea.  After all, freelancers have been around forever.  Contractors, Temps and Consultants of various sorts are a major segment of the workforce.  The sports and entertainment industries are built on talent running their own careers.  Movie-makers, studio musicians, sportscasters and quarterbacks all make their livings in a freelance economy.  The reality (and magic) of biotech has been the small drug discovery company, often driven more by aspiration than fact, surrounded by a collaborating community of government-, academic-, industry- and patient-advocates that is 10X its size.

It’s also true that lots of positions are so well-defined that they are very close to being those interchangeable bundles of skill-sets – ever see flight attendants (or pilots!) introduce themselves before a flight?  There’s no need for them to actually know each other in order to work together – the job is completely standardized.  Other jobs can approach that kind of predictability with constant feedback that quickly transforms survey results into credentials – witness Uber drivers evaluating customers evaluating Uber drivers or the software development community at GitHub, an ecosystem where more than 11 million careers thrive on the “street cred” that their work generates.

At the risk of raining on the parade, though, we have to point out that the fallacy in all of this seems pretty obvious.  Even if, as XXXX puts it, corporations are becoming social institutions more than economic ones, they are certainly not going out of style.  Organizations are why one plus one often equals way more than 3.  They hold the world together.  They serve a basic human need – wanting to achieve things together.  There are critically important things that can’t be commoditized – context, mission and motivation among them – that make all the difference.  Perhaps most important of all, and least recognized, is the fact that jobs drift, skills develop as problems are solved and solutions form, and organizations inevitably invest in people – explicitly and inadvertently.  Why would they ever want to throw that investment away by throwing them back into the talent pool?

Successful companies will have to master a more complex, ambiguous and even contradictory set of concepts:

Balancing Abundance & Scarcity.  The challenge will be to know which skill-sets are open-source, relatively abundant and quickly available and which are more context-specific, esoteric and unique to the company’s mission.

Managing Flow & Fit.  In today’s market for talent, flow is easy.  Fit is hard.  A biotech client of ours had 300 jobs to fill last year and had 33,000 applicants.  Google gets more than 2million applicants each year for a few thousand positions, and there’s an entire generation of talented staff, recruiters and managers who have become a bit “LinkedIn lazy.”  They post and pray, troll resumes or apply for (literally) thousands of jobs at a time.  Flow is easy.  Fit is hard.

Understanding Loose & Tight.  There are situations where you can “phone it in,” but we view those as increasingly rare and increasingly sub-optimal.  More often, creativity and innovation comes from the talent “soup” that’s created when a group of really bright people are immersed in the same problem.   Sometimes, this is a very short-cycled process – a complex financial derivatives trade, or a print advertisement.  In others, like drug discovery, it’s a decade-long proposition, with team continuity, unity of purpose and a deep sense of mission being the most important elements.

Managing the “Tribe”.  All organizations are prone to tribal behavior – geographic, cross-functional, or along myriad other dimensions.  In a truly positive and functional culture, employment “status” – as a “regular” employee, contractor, freelancer, consultant or tempcannot distinguish one tribe from another.  In a composite workforce, the only thing that should convey second-class citizenship is performance.

In summary, we expect this particular set of predictions to fall a bit short.  Recruiting great talent will become easier, more data-driven and more standardized in some situations and at the same time become more difficult, more intuitive and more customized in others.  Either way, talent will remain the greatest constraint on, and the greatest opportunity for, the success of organizations everywhere.

Nursing Major, HR Intern: 3 Things I Learned Interning Outside My Major

We all have to face the all too familiar question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” at the most inopportune times. It made me crazy, especially as a high school sophomore. I just got my license! How would I know?!

As I look back now, as a college senior, I realize how different my life could have become while making those early career decisions. Initially, I thought I wanted to study business, but I settled on nursing. After dragging my family on tours and road trips to see business schools I realized (thankfully) that life behind a desk wouldn’t suit my personality. I believe nursing was the right choice for me and I’m very grateful that I realized in time to apply.

While studying abroad in Australia this spring I had difficulty setting up a nursing oriented job for the upcoming summer. Through a family member I learned that an executive search firm close to home was looking for a summer intern. My old curiosity about the business world kicked in and I applied!

Interning at Gatti & Associates this summer has proven to me that:

  1. You’re more capable than you think. I jumped into my summer internship with no previous business experience or education, yet I’m still standing! I knew my way around a computer, understood social media, had decent research skills, and I knew how to act professionally. All of this got me further than I expected. Every new job involves learning. Whether it’s how to navigate the culture of the office or sort lists in a database, every challenge is a new learning opportunity. With patience, perseverance, and hard work, they’re achievable no matter your background.
  1. A job and a career are wildly different. Job experiences are the parts, but your career is a sum of the parts regardless of how diverse those experiences are. Writing style, communications skills, problem solving, and job delivery accumulate into a career. As most people have experienced, jobs come and go as well as change. If you look back at all the jobs you’ve had, that is where your career lies. What steps brought you to where you are today? My job as an intern for an executive search firm will definitely have a positive effect on my career in the future.
  1. Career and education are an ongoing and inter-woven process. Sure, bettering my clinical skills would have been a valuable way to spend my summer, but what I have gained from Gatti & Associates will take me further in the long run. Understanding fundamentals such as “what does human resources means” and “what goes on in day-to-day office life” is something every college student should experience, no matter what they major in.

So my simple advice, with all the wisdom that a college senior and soon-to-be rookie nurse can muster, is to look at every challenge as a learning opportunity. What initially might look like a decent summer job could be something that sticks with you for a very long time.


Written By: Charlotte Ozirsky

The Competing Offer Strikes Back

Many of us began to believe this was gone forever.  The job market has been so tepid, for so long, the concept of having more than one company actively chasing the same talent has almost been forgotten.

Candidates have become accustomed to competing against a large pool of candidates, and employers have become accustomed to using snow shovels to manage mountains of resumes.  One company we’re familiar with had about 300 professional openings last yearins d 32,000 applicants.  Even then, more than 60% of their hires didn’t come from the applicant pool.  Technology now drives resume flow, but it simply doesn m address fit very effectively.  Talent Acquisition teams and external search partners still carry most of the load.

So what’o happened?  Of course, there are the macro unemployment figures.  The national rate for June was down to 5.3%, and in states like Massachusetts, with hot tech- and biotech-markets, itetn states l  However, what we are seeing in our practice tells a much deeper and more nuanced story.

Back to work

As weto work deeper and more nuanced story.  ech- and bioteche applicant poollicanin the mine”. .  Our clients still want great HR leaders who have the capacity to help transform their organizations.  When confidence is back and youclients still want great Hgreat HR people are an early priority.  Now though, more candidates are juggling multiple offers, and companies have to move quickly to close the deal.

Our sister company, Armstrong-Franklin, is seeing the same thing in their supply chain practice, and the signs are even more telling.  Wage rates in India and China are rising unsustainably, and the sheer logistical risk of having product stuck in container ships has been made all too real, particularly at the end of 2014 when the Halloween decorations arrived just in time for Christmas.  Companies are transforming their supply chains, and bringing jobs back to the US.  Managing these transformations requires an exceptional skill-set, and frankly, there isn’t enough to go around.

Hiring the best is still front-and-center

Our advice to clients is very straightforward  focus and speed is very different than haste.

  • Squeeze every ounce of distraction and chaos out of the selection process.
  • Prepare your interviewing teams well and debrief quickly.
  • Know the competitive framework you.

Our advice to candidates is timeless, but even more important as the market heats up.  Simply put, don’t burn bridges.  If there are multiple offers in the mix, be diplomatic and avoid protracted bidding wars.  After all, you’re going to be working a long time with some of these people.

  • Play it straight, keep your recruiter informed, and don’t play games.
  • Give the respectful notice to your soon to be former employer.  Rest assured, your new employer will be watching how you handle this.  Remember, youloyer will be watching how you handle this.  heat up and cool off with absolutely equal frequency.


That’s our view.  We’d love to hear yours.  Visit us at


Gatti & Associates Places The Senior Vice President, Director HR Business Partnerships With Eastern Bank


Gatti & Associates is excited to announce that we placed the Senior Vice President, Director HR Business Partnerships at Eastern Bank.

The SVP/Director serves as a strategic business partner with senior leaders to align people strategies with business strategies, strengthen Eastern’s culture and lead  “best in class” HR functions of employee relations, talent acquisition, talent management, and diversity & inclusion.

Founded in 1818 and based in Boston, Eastern Bank is the largest and oldest mutual bank in the country, with $9.5 billion in assets and more than 100 branches serving communities in eastern Massachusetts and southern and coastal New Hampshire.

Eastern Bank offers banking, investments and insurance all under one roof, and prides itself on working harder to understand its customers’ needs so it can deliver these services in a committed and personal way. Eastern Bank, which includes Eastern Bank Wealth Management and Eastern Insurance, is a recognized leader in corporate social responsibility and for its advocacy on behalf of a number of social justice causes.

Alice Koehn Benson Becomes President And CEO Of HR Search Firm Gatti & Associates

Benson will lead top HR executive search firm to even greater growth, while founder Bob Gatti becomes Chairman Emeritus and Judy Banker is promoted to Executive Vice President & Managing Director

Effectively immediately, Alice Koehn Benson will become President and CEO of Gatti & Associates.  Founder Bob Gatti will move into the role of Chairman Emeritus and Judy Banker will be promoted to Executive Vice President & Managing Director.  In addition to now leading Gatti & Associates as President and CEO, Benson will also work to help further the growth of the parent company, Search Enterprises.

“It is a real honor to be asked to lead Gatti & Associates” Benson stated.  “Gatti & Associates is known as one of the top Human Resources executive search firms and has been for decades.  I am confident that even greater things await the company in the future.  Bob Gatti’s hard work has made this firm what it is today; his integrity is legendary in the industry.  We are all very grateful for his legacy and for building such an incredible organization.  I am excited about the opportunity,” Benson stated.
Prior to joining Gatti & Associates, Benson held a number of leadership roles including: Executive Vice President at the London-based Life Sciences retained search firm Coulter Partners and President of Prestonwood Associates, a recognized search leader focused on the Technology and Innovation, Healthcare and Life Sciences sectors.  Benson also built and led her own executive search firm.  Prior to executive search, she spent over 10 years in Human Resources roles for industry leaders including: Lotus, PTC, Bolt Beranek and Newman and Bank of Boston.  She will oversee the day-to-day workings of the firm while also ably leading the organization to its next stage of growth. Benson sits on the boards of WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology) and the Weston Council on Aging.

In conjunction with these highly significant moves, esteemed Executive Vice President and Partner Judy Banker will take on more responsibility as Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Gatti & Associates.  Judy is a leader with a keen sense of her clients’ unique cultures and strategic needs.  She’s worked tirelessly for over 25 years, helping make Gatti into the industry-leading organization it is today.  Like Benson, Banker is also an engaged member of the community, serving on the advisory board of reacHIRE, a group that helps women transition back into the workforce.

Reflecting on the new developments and founder Bob Gatti’s impressive career, Benson elaborated, “I’m grateful that he’s going to stay involved, providing advice, counsel and a deep understanding of Gatti’s clients and its unique approach to search.”

There Is No Mystery: Job Interview Tips To Help You Land The Right Job

Any time you’re dealing with a human resources executive placement firm, you’re going to likely find discussion about job interview tips.  The mystique surrounding what to do and what not to do in a job interview to better one’s chances of getting a sought after job would almost be amusing were it not such a serious topic of conversation to people seeking employment.  Nuances of perception are groomed as carefully as appearance and there are those who truly are convinced their chances might be improved if they hold their mouth in just the right way when they shake hands with their interviewer, assuming he or she offers his or her hand first, naturally!

In truth, the person or group of people charged with conducting interviews for an open company position aren’t nearly as interested in an applicant’s interviewing skills as they are in hiring the one person who is the best fit for their organization as a whole and their team in particular.  With this in mind, consider approaching your next interview with these particular tips in mind!

  • Show you’re a team player.  One way to do this is to comply with the most commonly offered job interview tips: dress nicely, go easy on the jewelry and cologne, and in general, attempt to show in your demeanor and dress your respect for both the interviewer as well as the organization he/she represents.
  • Be yourself.  Ultimately, you will not be happy if you get hired by pretending to be something you’re not.  For example, if you’re naturally an introvert, there’s no need to paint yourself as an bubbling extrovert, unless you want to continue in this role, indefinitely.
  • Do your homework on the organization.  Dig deep.  Study until you feel you have an understanding of what makes the entire company tick.  Be prepared to ask as well as answer questions, and plan questions that show your understanding of and interest in the company’s mission.
  • Be prepared for anything.  Role play with your spouse or a friend your entry, expected questions, the possibility of being interviewed by more than one person, a phone interview, etc.  It is often helpful to imagine that you are the interviewer.  Write out the questions you would ask someone hoping to land the job you’re applying for and be prepared to answer them.
  • Answer questions succinctly.  Don’t ramble.  Listen to the question, ask a clarifying question if necessary, and answer the question.  Be prepared to elaborate further if asked to do so, but show that you value the interviewer’s time.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should be on time for your interview, not walk in eating, drinking or chewing gum, make direct eye contact and make sure your cell phone is turned off.  An interview is your opportunity to sell yourself, but it’s also your opportunity to make sure that this is a company with which you are compatible.  Make every effort to communicate clearly. Let your true personality shine, have fun, and good luck!

Top Job Searching Tips For HR Professionals Today

While finding any quality job in today’s highly competitive environment poses problems, searching for an HR position can be acutely problematic, as companies seeking candidates for HR executive jobs often hold those candidates to a very high standard.  HR professionals are expected to use premier techniques and include exemplary details in their correspondence and at any interviews.  With the current trend toward using social media and other electronic communications, candidates for HR positions must also demonstrate the ability to navigate those environments.  There are, however, job searching tips for HR professionals all candidates should be aware of.

1. Appear professional throughout the process

While it may appear obvious, many candidates responding to a human resources executive search do not present themselves well.  They will submit resumes with grammatical errors and fail to follow up as needed.  Candidates may also use inappropriate email addresses that are less than professional.  If there is any question about the suitability of an email address, HR professionals suggest setting up a new email account specifically for the job search.  Professionalism is important during all stages of a job search and interview process.

2. Use all available job search resources

Before submitting information related to a job search, compare your information with samples available online.  That is not to suggest applicants cut and paste templates, as that is quite obvious to application reviewers, but it is wise to evaluate the type of information included and embrace using those types of data in applications and resumes.  In many areas, counselors are available to help anyone with their job searches.  Again, do not blindly accept advice, but evaluate whether or not that advice is applicable to your specific situation.

3. Use online resources for networking

Networking with other professionals is becoming a vital part of any job search.  Online resources like LinkedIn are rapidly evolving and make it possible for HR professionals to network with others in similar positions.  Because a large percentage of jobs are never advertised, knowing other professionals often provides opportunities to respond to unpublished openings.  Job seekers can also use other online tactics to enhance their value to a prospective employer.  Blogs, for example, allow job seekers to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to handle challenging situations.  As online use continues to expand and change, job seekers must keep abreast of trends and include them in their job search strategy.

Using some or all of the above techniques is commonly recommended by HR professionals.  In addition, any top HR executive placement firm will work with clients to develop specific skillsets needed in different situations.  Because every position is different, HR professionals must be willing to tailor resumes, cover letters and other job seeking devices to match the demands of each job opportunity.

Personal Branding And Marketing Yourself By Rita Allen

It is with great pleasure  that we announce the completion of our Colleague Rita Allen’s first book, titled, “Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself” which is now available on Amazonand Barnes & Noble.


When We Hear the Term “Marketing,” We Likely Think of Products, Services & Commodities.


Whether you are seeking a new position, changing roles within an organization, or taking charge of your career planning, marketing yourself is the best way to seize these opportunities. Yet few of us are ready and able to talk about our talents, accomplishments, and the value we have to offer. In this engaging, timely, and informative book, acclaimed career and executive coach, trainer, and consultant Rita Balian Allen makes the case for personal branding as an essential ingredient for a successful career. For Rita and the many people who have sought her guidance, the Three Ps Marketing Technique has been the key:

Preparation Identify & Define Your Brand

Packaging Create & Build Your Brand

Presentation Enhance & Articulate Your Brand


Complete with worksheets, checklists, and proven advice, Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself is a powerful toolkit for developing the ease, confidence, and comfort to learn about, maintain, and communicate our best professional selves.

What people are saying about this book:

“Professional presence is a key trait for those who succeed in organizations, yet one that is very difficult to define and to mentor. In her new book, Rita Allen, with her years of excellent coaching for executives, has provided an extremely helpful resource to guide all who want to improve their stature and their ability to navigate the unspoken necessities of building a strong personal brand.”

Debra Kennedy Director, Executive Education Bentley University

“Learn the secrets to taking charge of your career! This book is full of practical tips, advice and tools for any stage of your career and provides guidance so you can get started today!”

Carol O’Donnell, Former VP of Human Resources New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.

“Every page of this book is filled with tips and techniques for taking control of your career. It helps to put it all together in a way that is practical and easy to follow while keeping you engaged through real stories.”

Deborah Varao-Martin, Sr. Director, Talent Development Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA

“Rita has encapsulated her personal branding philosophy and many years of coaching experience into a practical hands-on framework that will help you focus on the most important elements of building your personal brand.”

V. Murray, HR Executive Financial Services

“This book provides insightful personal experiences, stories and guidelines to help prepare a person at any age and profession in digging deep to align your values to your career, how to market yourself as well as developing confidence by truly knowing your strengths. Utilize this book during and throughout your career, even when you are not looking for a job…It provides the “how to” and is a must read for all of us!”

Debbie Balaguer, Regional Vice President of Sales STAT!Ref

“Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself is a must read! The definition of the JOB is changing as we shift from career employment to career employability. It is no longer just what you know, but how best to tell the world what it is you know. Allen’s book will take professionals in all stages of their careers through a discovery process on how best to capture and promote what is unique about oneself – keys to maximizing one’s potential.”

Bob Kelleher Best Selling Author, “Louder Than Words, 10 Practical Employee Engagement Steps…that Drive Results” and Chief Engagement Officer and Founder The Employee Engagement Group

“While I had been wary of applying the concept of ‘branding’ to my own professional life, I found Rita’s approach convincing, refreshing, and applicable. Rita’s ’3P’ process actively guides you in recognizing, defining, and articulating your authentic self. Rita’s inclusion of clients’ perspectives and experiences helps you see how different individuals have defined and celebrated their own personal brands.”

Kathleen Cronin Former Vice President of Human Resources at a Boston area university

“Having known Rita for several years, I’ve seen her as a dedicated practitioner, colleague, consultant and friend. She has applied her years of talent management experience, knowledge and research to writing this book as an effective guide to taking charge of your career for any and all professionals. Her book captures her ability to attract the attention of sizable audiences on a variety of related topics as well as conducting one-on-one exercises with a client reflecting how desirable her expertise is regarded.”

Bob Gatti President Gatti & Associates

“As a GenXer rising up in my career, I found Balian Allen’s book to be an incredibly useful tool with practical advice on using the Three Ps Technique as a roadmap to building one’s personal brand as a successful career management strategy. “Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself” is engaging, empowering and a terrific read for anyone looking to build their brand at any career level.”

Ellen Keiley, President, National Association of Women MBA’s Boston Chapter, Director of Business Development at Sherin and Lodgen LLP

10 Tips For Successful Networking

Rita’s Career Corner …With Rita B. Allen                                   February 2013

Yes, another article about networking! Like it or not, the ability to network effectively and consistently remains one of the key ingredients in managing a successful career. Regardless of your field, industry, level or geography, it is essential to embrace networking as a positive, get comfortable with it and truly develop the ‘art of networking’. I call it an ‘art’ because every individual will make it their own and create a landscape that is unique and appropriate for them. Let me suggest that we even toss out the term ‘networking’ and replace it with ‘building relationships’. Think of it as having meaningful conversations and building productive connections. It is important to approach it as a relationship building process, with the goal of establishing, creating, and nurturing strong long lasting relationships through many venues. ALWAYS keep it real – be genuine, sincere and authentic! Start by engaging in activities that fit your style and are comfortable for you. Take it step by step rather than taking on too much that ends up overwhelming you. Find the right mix that works for you.

Many people still believe that it is most relevant when they decide to embark on a new job search, however, don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s the only time. While networking remains the top source for learning about new job opportunities, it is also the top source for business development, resource referrals, vendor selection, market data, and industry trends, as well as a source of relevant information for your business and personal career.

Let me share some tried and true networking tips that I learned many years ago from one of my mentors, Bob Gatti, that remain as compelling and relevant as we start the year 2013.

Ten Tips for Successful Networking:

1. Identify specific target markets

Focus in on the influential people you should meet and begin the process of building and nurturing relationships. Identify segments of your market to focus and get the most rewards. You may decide to break your targets down by level, specialty, geography, industry and/or a variety of other factors. The important thing is to have a plan – begin to narrow down to 2-3 specific targets to get started.

2. Know your marketplace

Be well read. Stay on top of currents practices, trends, new businesses and resources. Belong to and attend professional association meetings, seminars, conferences, and networking events where you can be educated on the most recent developments and challenges. Read the appropriate trade journals, periodicals, newspapers, and websites that make you aware of up-to-the-minute changes in your field, as well as your competition and lowers the risk of encountering surprises.

3. Be visible and “in play”

Put yourself in a position to meet people. Network internally within your organization, and externally within your industry. Attend business meetings, professional associations, trade shows, college alumni gatherings, etc. Take an active role within your professional and personal community. Many people make the mistake of putting their heads down, doing their job and say, “I don’t have time to network.” The truth

is you have to discipline yourself to meet with the right people in order to be more effective in your job and the only way to do that is to put yourself in a position to meet people.

4. Become the source of relevant information

Build a reputation of expertise and sought-after resource. Keep your skills and competencies current. Take courses, attend seminars and workshops. As you develop a following as a content expert, people will be contacting you, hoping to build a relationship with you, and thus putting you in a position to be viewed as a trusted authority. Building a name for yourself is a prestigious role to earn. Having this kind of wisdom and experience speaks volume for any professional.

5. Always give something back to your profession and community

Not only does it make you feel good as a decent human being but it also brings you indirect rewards and benefits that you never expect. People remember acts of kindness and good will. They are then inclined to return the favor as well as serve as a source of referrals and praise for you. Do not expect anything in return, however. There are many ways to give back to your profession and community – you pick the ways that bring you most joy.

6. Practice networking etiquette

Remember, it’s a two-way street. It’s a constant give and take. Whenever you are networking, it should always be a partnership that is viewed as mutually beneficial. Both sides should regard the relationship as a rewarding one. One person should not always be the recipient. On the flip side, do not forget the people that helped you when you needed their assistance. Even if they don’t reach out to you for any kind of help, initiate ways you can be of help to them as a way of thanking them.

7. Maintain your shelf life

Create a track record full of accomplishments and market them appropriately. As you build your portfolio, it is easier to reflect on your history of success. People look for specific accomplishments and contributions as a way to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Build substance not fluff.

8. Create a networking database

Make it formal and be disciplined about expanding and maintaining it. There are so many options now with social media and software packages to assist you. In this world of sophisticated technologies, it is vital to have your own detailed database that includes all of your contacts. The accuracy of your database will be a key reflection of your success as a “seasoned networker.” Update it regularly and create logs of all conversations with repetitive flags for follow up. Make it a priority!

9. Have a clear, brief message to deliver

Be sure to have a crisp message that will gain people’s attention and interest. Keep in mind that professionals in every line of work are getting inundated with emails and phone calls every day from people trying to sell them one service or another. Why should they listen to you, much less be motivated to engage in a conversation or meeting? Make your message clear and brief, outlining a mutual bond that will grab their attention. Be friendly, outgoing and positive. An upbeat and enthusiastic style is always enticing and contagious. You can refine your message and develop slightly different messages for different audiences. Always be prepared and do your homework prior to engaging in a conversation. Most importantly, be genuine – show your conviction and passion.

10. Don’t ever stop!

Gain and sustain momentum. Most people make the mistake of running hot and cold with their networking efforts. They only work at it in when they can, when they need something, or when things are slow. The best results are achieved when you make it a priority, are disciplined, and have a plan. Set realistic goals for yourself and make yourself accountable to execute them. Use a formal system for follow-up to keep you on track with specific timelines. Once you have a formal system set up for yourself, it is like second nature and is worked into the day-to-day pieces of your job and life. You see the results and reap the rewards. Happy Networking!

Rita Balian Allen is the President of Rita B. Allen Associates, a provider of career management/talent management consulting and executive coaching services located in Waltham at and the President of ACPI – NE (Association of Career Professionals International – New England),