5 Ways to be Effective at a Networking Event

Networking events sometimes feel like speed dating. Talk to as many people as you can until you find a mutually beneficial connection. It can be less than comfortable.

These events are created with the best of intentions, but trying to create organic conversation in a manufactured setting can be difficult.

The thought of networking will cause you to reach for a stack of business cards or hide in the coat closet depending upon your personality. Rather then shuffling through your forced mental script of rehearsed questions, consider the following 5 ways to be effective at your next networking event.

Be memorable

We don’t mean wearing a flashy tie. Be the man or woman who is remembered by what you say.

We’re all used to the standard, “So, what do you do?” line of questioning. Simply being prepared for these standard questions can leave an impression.

Come up with an honest answer that is engaging and makes the other person want to know more.

Donald Miller, best selling author and CEO of StoryBrand, gives the following example of a conversation between two people at networking event.

Other person: “So, what do you do?”

You: “You know how hard it is to make a healthy dinner every weeknight with all the stuff your kids have going on? Well, our company delivers homemade frozen dinners that are actually affordable, so parents can relax and enjoy time with their families at night.”

As Miller explains, this method works because you’re telling a mini-story with this type of answer. This also positions you as the person who can solve a specific problem. If the other person can’t work with you at the present time, they’ll be able to file your name away in their mental Rolodex as the person with a specific solution.

Be genuine

Vanessa Van Edwards, a human behavioral expert, and author of Captivate, tries to provide a “me-too!” moment for the other person in every conversation. “It makes us feel accepted. It makes us feel heard. And most importantly, it makes us feel calm,” she explains.

Genuinely showing you care goes a long way. During most of these events, you’re surrounded by people searching for what they can get out of the other person. But entering a conversation with the desire to solve their needs often results in mutual benefit. Maybe you’ll get their business or maybe you’ll just get the blessing of being able to help someone.

Show the other person you care by asking questions you actually want to know the answer to. Rather than the standard, “What do you do?” or “What brought you here tonight?” try the following:

What are you most excited about with your job right now?

What are you most excited about with your industry right now?

What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently facing?

How did you end up in your line of work?

What are you looking forward to this week?

Know where to stand

It may sound trivial, but the location you choose to stand in a room can make all the difference. Rather than backing yourself up into a corner, choose strategic high-traffic locations within the room.

More specifically, stand where people are walking away from – against the flow. Find a place where there is a natural traffic flow such as a few feet from the bar or hors d'oeuvres table. This will allow you to make eye contact and be in position to naturally engage other attendees.

Check your body language

In a recent interview, Van Edwards explained that you want to maintain open body posture. This shows the other person you are open to conversation and non-threatening.

A simple way to demonstrate open body posture is to show your hands. Van Edwards says this is a primal survival mechanism showing that we are not carrying a weapon. Conversational stature often causes us to place our hands in our pockets or fold our arms. Subconsciously this communicates that we are closed off or even untrustworthy.

It can be hard to avoid folding your arms as this can be a natural tendency for many. However, if you need to, hold a glass or folder to keep yourself from placing your hands in your pockets.

Have a plan of action

You can usually decide early on in the conversation whether you will want to stay connected with the person you’ve been speaking with. If you do, you’ll want to have a practical way to follow up. But if you decide that you won’t want to stay connected, you need to have a natural exit strategy.

If you desire to stay in contact, provide them with your business card and tell them you’ll be following up with them. Depending upon the conversation, you may be able to offer to email them a helpful resource.

However, if you realize you won’t want to stay connected beyond the conversation, you need to have a way to remove yourself from the conversation. Simply asking to be excused in order to attend to needed business before the next session can be a honest, natural method. You can also watch for a natural break in the conversation and cordially thank them for their time and wish them the best of luck with the remainder of the year. While you want to show genuine interest in the other person, you need to value your own time as well.

Summary

Depending upon the length of the event or conference, you may have several conversations, but you’ll only have one or two memorable connections. Once the event is over focus on the conversation that you see providing the most direct benefit.

Today, it’s easy to make connections, but developing relationships can be difficult. Developing these relationships requires you analyze yourself and be proactive. While searching for connections, you need to be the person someone wants to network with. Keep these five tips in mind to make the most of the next networking event you attend.

Resources:

http://buildingastorybrand.com/episode-96/

http://buildingastorybrand.com/network-without-being-annoying/

Interviews: The Most Common Questions Answered for Healthcare IT Consultants

July 26, 2016

By Christy Fox, Marketing Specialist

With the nature of contingent employment, Healthcare IT Consultants may find themselves preparing for job interviews often.  While many of the questions asked in the interview could be the same as what would be asked for a permanent position, job interviewers tend to look for different answers from HIT Consultants.  Odds are, any professional is familiar with the most common interview questions, but what type of answers are interviewers looking for from a contingent role candidate?

Here are 5 common questions, why interviewers are asking them, and good approaches to giving the best answers possible as an HIT Consultant; sometimes responses might be similar to what a permanent position interviewee might say, and other times HIT Consultants need to be prepared to answer differently.

Tell us about yourself.
 This prompt often happens at the very beginning of the interview.  At first glance it seems self-explanatory why an interviewer would ask this, but normally this question is more important than one might think.  This is the opening for HIT Consultants to make a great first impression and prove that they have the specific skills needed for the project.  It is a good idea for HIT Consultants to show the interviewer that he or she is qualified right from the start, as hiring managers for contingent jobs are looking for someone to fit their immediate needs.

Do:

  • Keep the answer concise so you don’t bore the interviewer
  • Relate your background to the specific details of the position and how you can immediately make a positive impact for the company in the role

Don’t:

  • Don’t get too personal
  • Don’t just list off what is already on your resume

What are your strengths?
Commonly used to gauge confidence, and again, see how the candidate aligns with the position, interviewers ask this question to identify what candidates are good at and find out if how well they will perform in the role.  Healthcare IT Consultants should always think about this question before the interview and make sure to be prepared with strengths that show they are a match with the position.  While some may have many strengths, HIT Consultants need to be sure to pick the strengths that are most relatable to the job, since irrelevant strengths could put them out of the running for a specific contract job.

Do:

  • Provide relevant short examples of your strengths in action with recent accomplishments or positive results
  • Be confident when discussing your talents

Don’t:

  • Don’t pick a strength that is irrelevant to the position
  • Don’t be too vague – be able to elaborate

What are your weaknesses?
This might be one of the tougher common interview questions for everyone.  Even more important than the actual weakness, employers will pay attention to how the question is handled.  HIT Consultants should be able to provide a weakness, but be upfront on how they are improving upon it.  Deciding on a weakness that won’t squander the chance of getting the job is essential.

Do:

  • Try to turn what may be perceived as a negative into a positive
  • Talk about what you are doing to improve

Don’t:

  • Don’t make a claim that you have no weaknesses
  • Don’t talk about weaknesses that will immediately eliminate you from the job opportunity

Why do you want to work here?
Answering this question differs slightly from permanent position candidates; they may want to show how well they can fit into the culture, and generally how they could fit in long-term.  For contingent workers, it is more important to show the employer how their skills can be of benefit to them.  Additionally, HIT Consultants should exemplify how they will be able to adapt and mold to the culture quickly in the short time they are working there.

Do:

  • Show your interest, while speaking competently on the company and position
  • Focus on how you can get up to speed quickly on the job, as opposed to how you will immerse yourself in the company culture

Don’t: 

  • Avoid giving vague answers such as “I heard it’s a great company.”
  • Don’t focus your answer on yourself –show how you can be valuable to the company

Tell about a challenging situation and how you overcame it.
Most interviewers will ask at least one situational question in an interview.  What they’re really trying to find out is how one handles stress, working with others, and how problems are solved.  HIT Consultants should be prepared with specific examples of situations in previous experiences similar to the project he or she is interviewing for, and show how a problem was solved while remaining professional and calm.

Do:

  • Have multiple examples of different situations that align with the role because this question could vary
  • Exemplify how you came up with a solution in the situations logically

Don’t:

  • Don’t bring up a difficult situation where you were the cause

It is always smart to prepare for as many different types of questions as possible before going into an interview, but remember, as an HIT Consultant, answers should reflect a goal of contingency work or a shorter term contract instead of permanent placement.

8 IT Talent Trends to Watch in 2016

BLM648 FRANK MYEROFF_H webThe following piece by Frank Myeroff, President DCA, appeared in the November 25, 2015 issue of HIStalk.com:

What’s in store for the New Year when it comes to IT Talent? Here are 8 talent trends that are shaping the IT workforce in 2016:

1) Internet of Things (IOT): Talk about a technology revolution! IOT is emerging as the next technology mega-trend across the business spectrum. This means a job boom for Developers, Coders, and Hardware professionals. However, to land a job in IOT, organizations want candidates with specific technology skill sets and experience. Consequently, an IOT talent shortage is expected.

2) New C-Level Title: Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) is a senior level executive title and position that was created as a result of consumer concerns over the use of personal information, including medical data and financial information. Organizations have had to rethink IT security due to recent breaches. While most organizations already have a CSO (Chief Security Officer) and/or a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), there’s a need for a CPO, a dedicated privacy advocate responsible for keeping personal information safe.

3) Gen Z will enter the workforce in greater numbers in May. Generation Z, those born between 1994 and 2004 (although there’s been no general agreement on exact years), are the most digitally connected generation yet. They have no concept about life before the Internet, mobile devices, digital games, or iTunes. Therefore, they are very tech savvy and even more entrepreneurial than Millennials. They will choose career opportunities that provide quick advancement and work/life balance over salary and want mentors to help them achieve their goals.

4) Big Data Becomes Even Bigger Data: Big data is increasing the need for a new breed of engineers who specialize in massive databases.  While the skills required aren’t necessarily new, there is a significant amount of knowledge needed in the areas of math and scientific analysis. Typical high-level skills expected for a position in this field include data analysis, data warehousing, data transformation, and data collection.

5) Longer Hiring Process Continues:
According to the Wall Street Journal, in the US the time it takes to fill a job is lengthening. In April 2015, the average job was vacant for 27.3 days before being filled. This nearly doubles the 15.3 days it took prior to 2009. The long hiring process can be attributed to having fewer qualified candidates for job openings as well as the increased number of background screening and drug tests ordered. WSJ also cites that the many portals and databases used to source and find candidates have become more entailed. While better hires are coming out of the process, it’s moving slowly.

6) Hybrid IT Talent In-Demand. The IT hybrid employee is on the rise. They are considered a generalist and a specialist all in one. A generalist tends to be someone who knows quite a few technologies but only at an average level. A specialist knows only one or two but at an expert level. A hybrid knows about a great many things at an advanced level and can adapt to any type of project. With a hybrid employee, employers are basically getting two people in one.

7) Project Work & Consultant Roles Abundant. Project work and consulting roles are most likely to remain abundant through 2016 and beyond. Increasing business demands are prompting many companies to invest in new technologies, along with upgrades and migration projects around tools such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Candidates who have knowledge of both new and legacy business systems are highly sought after by employers.

8) Hottest Industries Hiring IT: The following industries are the top industries that will be hiring more IT professionals in 2016… Healthcare, Financial Services, Managed Services, Mobile Technologies, Telecommunications, and Hospitality.

When to Discuss Salary During the Interview Process

October 27, 2015

When it comes to discussing salary during the interview process, timing is everything!

By John Yurkschatt, IT Director

Being a recruiter, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say those words to consultants and candidates.  I also let them know that if they’re the perfect candidate for the job, the subject will eventually come up on its own without forcing it.

Moreover, I strongly advise any candidate against getting anywhere near the subject on a first interview. After all, your first interview is a “getting to know you” invitation.  Even if your first interview is going extremely well and there’s a second interview in sight, the subject of salary can and should wait for several reasons: You truly need to understand the job at hand, you need to know what will be required of you, what the job involves, and the potential for advancement. Additionally, at this point, you can’t know if you’re their number one candidate. It’s just too early. So why put a price tag on it yet?

Now, if the interviewer brings up the topic of salary on the first interview and asks you what you’re looking for, the best advice I can give you is to turn the tables on them by asking about the salary range for the position. Let them make the first move. Never just throw out a number off the top of your head.  You can’t recover from that. In fact, statistics say about 80% of those who offer a number, end up too low and pigeonhole themselves.

When is the best time to talk about salary? When the hiring manager/interviewer has made it clear that they’ve narrowed the field and you are their candidate of choice.  The company will most likely put an offer on the table. That’s a good starting point.  If the number is attractive to you then go from there. If it’s too low, you don’t have to accept the offer and it’s time to present your case and negotiate.  Mention the value you bring to their firm as well as any current employment situation such as pending raise or bonus, great benefits, better vacation plan, etc.  Remember you’ve waited until the company has committed to wanting you so there’s a strong possibility they’ll take your information and come back with a better offer.

You might have to meet them halfway.  If the position is attractive to you and the company is your top choice, it’s worth the compromise. It’s a solid offer. Remember there is a fine line between being too demanding and feeling like you are in a good place and walking into a good situation.

Here’s where I need to tell you that one of the benefits of working with a recruiter is we are very instrumental in the area of negotiations. Using a recruiter allows you to get the best possible deal, while avoiding the need to confront your new potential employer. Also, recruiters better understand whether you are getting the best possible deal. In fact, how recruiters negotiate for you could be a near future blog.

Overall, I can’t stress enough that the only time to talk compensation is when the interviewer brings it up or when an offer has been extended to you.  Bringing up the topic out of turn or too early in the process could jeopardize your chance of landing the opportunity.

Please share how you negotiated salaries in the past.

The Rise of a Contingent Workforce…A Trend to Watch by John Yurkschatt, Project Manager, DCA

John Yurkschatt Head Shot 2015A trend to watch and follow in 2014 and beyond is how the workforce will become even more contingent. There are already signs that this is happening with the rise in temporary workers, contractors, independent consultants, and freelancers. According to Career.com, 42% of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014, up from 40% last year.

This dynamic shift to a contingent workforce is happening so rapidly these days that many employers find that they need to be more flexible and adaptable. For most employers, the benefits are worth it. With a contingent workforce, they can “dial up” or “dial down” staffing as needed. In fact, contingency staffing in the Healthcare IT space is very attractive because work is becoming more knowledge and project-based, and increasingly reliant on specialized skills and expertise.

To join the contingent workforce, how should you prepare?

Identify the niche you have skills and expertise. Just having an interest in computers does not make you an IT Consultant. You must have the knowledge and experience coupled with a strong desire to succeed.

Obtain the required certifications. To be in demand, you must obtain formal training and required certifications from recognized institutions.

Build your network and brand yourself. It’s important to start building your network once you’ve decided to be a consultant. A strong contact base will help you connect with the resources needed in order to find work.  Also, position yourself as an expert, someone that an organization cannot do without. Now, combine both a professional network and social network to help you spread with word faster.

Target your market and location. Determine what type of facility or organization you want to work with and once decided, think about location. Do you want to work in your current geographic location only or are you willing to relocate or commute via airline to and from work?

Decide whether to go solo or engage with a consulting and staffing firm.  If you have the entrepreneurial spirit and want to approach a specific organization directly for a long-term gig, you might want to go solo. However, if you’re open to both short-term and long-term opportunities in various locations, a consultant staffing firm might be the answer.

The rise of a contingent workforce will only continue to grow and with it, much opportunity. A consultant or contractor is more free than a regular employee to circulate within their professional community and to take more jobs in more challenging environments.

Please post your thoughts about this trend below.