Do You Have A Focus Group?

Job seekers, like it or not, you are a salesperson. Your talents, skills, connections and sweat are up for grabs and it’s your responsibility to understand who your customers are, what you have they could use, what value to put on those offerings and how they respond to your marketing materials & pitch.

How does one go about finding this kind of stuff out? Follow the lead of successful companies and put together your own focus group. Your focus group should include individuals from your target audience or who come close enough to be able to appreciate the perspective of that audience. Too many job seekers rely exclusively on advice of those who aren’t really part of their target audience. Why is that a problem? Imagine a restaurant turning to vegetarians for their take on a new burger. Imagine an automaker asking 18 year old drivers to evaluate a new mini van versus moms with kids. Doesn’t make sense, right? If the restaurant or automaker followed the suggestions of the vegetarians and 18 year old drivers, imagine how unappealing the end result could end up being to the target customer.

Having individuals with no real need for or understanding of what you do as your sole source of guidance in your job search is problematic. Sure, consult resume, interview and job search strategy professionals for overall concepts, but turn to your focus group for refinement. Ask former colleagues, fellow members of professional associations and decision makers in your networking circle from companies similar to those you are chasing for a moment of their time. Your search efforts will benefit.

By the way, thanks to my friend Dave Isbell of the Michigan State University Alumni Association for inspiring this post. Check out a post he wrote last week for a deeper discussion on the matter. You can find the post by clicking here.

6 Comments

  • Dave Isbell says:

    Thanks for the shout out Lisa! I appreciate your thoughts on this topic, and all of the work that you do. I also love that you linked the post to my pal Chris Sell’s blog instead of mine where it originated from. I’m all about sharing my friend’s work, and hopefully your readers will tune in to what Chris has to say in his posts. He is a smart guy!

  • Tired of living in a job vacuum!
    Tired of Monster.com, Tired of Simplyhired.com, Tired of Creativesolutions.com,,,etc..
    O.K. now thats out of my system..I have been working in the creative industry as a designer
    most of my life I have worked with major corporations, hospitals, banks, newspapers, engineering
    companies and more recently developing buisness on my own..however have hit a road block!
    want desperately to meet a flesh and blood person instead on .com’s any ideas?

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Darrell. Your question could be interpreted two ways. Are you asking how to get to decision makers about job openings so you can have a human to human conversation or are you asking about how to connect to others for the purpose of networking? I definitely appreciate your desire to add some humanity to your search. Humanity is where it’s at! The sites you mentioned serve a purpose, but they shouldn’t dominate anyone’s job search. Connecting with individuals and having genuine conversations…that’s what leads to success.

  • Thank you Lis that is very helpful..Actually I was hoping to get some direction on networking groups that I could join related to my industry? any suggestions?

  • Tammy says:

    Hi Darell,

    Online professional networking social media groups like Plaxo.com and LinkedIn offer you the chance to join online groups that are related to your industry. True, it is not person-to-person, but you have a chance of meeting people in your area or being able to reach out to others in different locations, getting opinions, pointers and tips.

    For the person-to-person networking opportunities you could look up chambers of commerce for local cities and find out when they have their monthly mixers. Another great place to meet a lot of people is your local Toastmasters Club. Like the Lions, Elks, Moose, Eagles, Kiwanis, Optimist and Rotary clubs etc, Toastmasters is a great place to meet a variety of people. It is common to find business people joining Toastmasters for the networking opportunities. I know first hand.

    More face to face networking clubs include the Tippers Club and the Leads Club. Find them online to locate a club near you.

    A great time to network is during the holidays. Christmas parties, office parties and casual gatherings are a nice place to let people know what you have to offer. Design and print your own holiday card or yearly calendar as a sample of your work. Include your contact information and website. Mail it out or hand it out in person with some cookies to spread that holiday cheer.

    Churches are a wonderful place to network as well. People already know you and can attest to your character. They could pass on your information to others who might be interested in hiring you. Why stop at churches though? Why not include PTA’s, bowling nights, sporting events, fundraisers, dinner parties etc. Include community events like car shows, street fairs, meet and greet events and networking luncheons.

    Have you looked into Meetup.com? Look up a Meetup group in your area that has to do with an interest of yours, a hobby or sport. You’ll meet other like minded individuals and maybe make a few friends. Building relationships take time and effort. You might as well make if fun!

  • Tammy says:

    Darell –

    I forgot one more networking tip.

    If you have a regular barber or stylist, strike up a conversation and let them know that you are in the market to find people and companies who are hiring designers. Leave them your card. Bartenders also tend to know a lot about the people they serve and I am sure if you thought about it, you might think of a few more occupations that qualify as such.

    Good Luck!

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