Does Your Company Have A Bad Reputation In the Market?

Q. A few years back our company had a bad reputation in the industry. Since then we have changed management and most of the issues are long gone, but our reputation still lingers. We have been told this is affecting our ability to hire people. Recruiters have told us some candidates won’t go forward after hearing the name of our company. How do we go about changing that without spending thousands on a PR firm?

Since the first place most people go after hearing the name of a company is the Web site, I would start there. Most Web sites are all about the company's products or services, other than the “About Us” section which is generally a history lesson on the company.

Consider having a career page, have the CEO do a short video about all the good changes that have happened in the last few years, have current employees give testimonials about the improvements that have taken place, ask a few customers and vendors to be included, and finally share the vision of the company with the readers so they see the difference. Do the same thing on Facebook but here have a dialog with the readers. Let your employees comment and have the CEO comment and reply to comments made by others. You might even hit the issue head-on by stating, ”We know many still view us the way we were a few years back, but take a look at the new company and all of the changes we have implemented to change that reputation.” Let the readers know you know and you have fixed it.

Finally, you will need to get out in the community. Attend networking groups, industry association meetings, conferences and trade shows to promote the “new company.” I would invite recruiters into the facility so they can see and hear the difference. As a recruiter I have had candidates say the same thing to me many times. Knowing the company allows me to address those concerns head-on with candidates. I find candidates open up once they learn the facts about the new company.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Jobless recovery – been there, done that.

There is a lot of talk about the “jobless recovery.” Well, I've been there, done that – back in the 70's. Seems like the glass half-empty versus the glass half-full syndrome to me. Don't get me wrong, if you're in transition or out on your own trying to “drum up business,” this is a very tough economy. Bear with me on this though; even if the real unemployment rate is close to 20% rather than the 9.8% number being bandied about, that means 80% of the people are still employed. And if 3 million people were let go last month, but the unemployment number stayed the same, then that means that 3 million people were hired. Okay, you get where I'm going with this.

If you're in transition and looking for your next great position in the corporate world, what are you to do to make yourself the next person hired? To begin with, if you're reading this post then you're off to a good start because you've found the best blog for researching what you need to do. Between Brad, Barry and their team, the information they post here about how to go about finding your next position will be invaluable. And since I am not an HR, recruiter or retained search person, I will leave all of that to them. However, I can give you a bit of perspective of the hiring manager.

I am very lucky to be able to work with a great set of business owners, company presidents, CEOs and senior executives in a wide variety of businesses. I can tell you what I am observing in the small business world. You can take that information, marry it to what you learn on this blog from the search/recruiting professionals and come up with a plan. Here is what I'm seeing.

Money is tight. Hiring at this point is going to be done at a very slow and deliberate pace. Part time employment or outsourcing work to 1099 independent consultants is what is happening now. Are you able to take advantage of that trend? Can you do some outstanding work as a part time employee or consultant that will make you the lead candidate when full time employment is justified?

My advice to business owners in this economy is to be ruthless in “husbanding your cash.” Do not waste money on bad hires or employee turnover. I advise them to make sure they do hire when the time is right, but to make sure they take their time, define their success factors and are deliberate in finding the right candidate. If you, as a candidate know that many employers are taking that point of view, what can you do to help them reach that goal while at the same time helping yourself? When you are presenting yourself to a prospective employer or on-line or to a search firm are you focused on yourself or on their challenges? Are you appearing confident and results oriented or self-interested and perhaps “desperate for employment”? Clawing our way back to profitability is going to be a very long process for all of us. Employers can't afford to make mistakes. You have to convince yourself and them that you are the right person, understand their challenges and can be successful in resolving those challenges.

On the employer side, have you ever assessed the full and true costs of a bad hire? Few companies take the time to conduct this assessment. I think if could be they are afraid of the results. If you can handle it download our Cost Of A Bad Hire Worksheet. CLICK HERE and be sitting down when you complete the worksheet. A respirator near you is recommended.

LinkedIN is a powerful tool for hiring top talent. Join our Hire and Retain Top Talent Group. There is a wealth of articles and discussions for you there. CLICK HERE to join.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Networking . . . Part (3)

If you've been following the posts on this blog, you will recognize the similarity between the comments I have made about the art of networking with the comments made on the sales process. The sales skill ladder has four rungs: Product Based Selling, Solution Based Selling, Consultative Selling, and finally Trust Based Selling. As I've mentioned with respect to sales, the first three rungs are salesperson oriented. The fourth rung is truly, genuinely, authentically, client focused. We have the clients best interest at heart. It's the same for networking!

The networking ladder might be: Card Based Networking, Group Based Networking, My Strengths Based Networking and finally Trusted Relationship Networking. As before, the first three are focused on you and the highest rung is truly focused on helping others and trusting that what goes around will come around – without having that in the forefront of your mind when networking.

On the first rung, the so-called networker believes that s/he has had a great evening when they leave the dinner event with 25 or more cards. What a great night! Well, I highly doubt it. What that person has is a bunch of cards, but no knowledge of the persons giving them the cards. How could they? 25 cards in a couple of hours? How much time did they spend asking questions to find out how they could help the other person?

On the second rung, the networker is targeting a special interest group which makes things a bit more comfortable to contact people because there is a “common interest.” You can build on that common interest to develop a relationship. My observation is, however, that few people practice the art of finding out what they can do for the other person. They are still focused on their own needs.

On the third rung, the networker is now aware that they need to be showing how they add value. So they tend to speak to others about what they can do to solve common problems companies might be experiencing. However, the conversation is still focused on them even though they are touting their added value. This conversation is fine with someone who asks you how they might find potential employment/client opportunities. But it is for AFTER they ask you to explain, not before.

The fourth rung of the networking ladder is where the accomplished networker spends most of her/his time. They ask lots of questions about the other person. They are genuinely interested in the other person. They are the ones who leave a huge dinner event with only three cards. They've spent a minimum of 20 minutes with each of those persons getting to know what they do, how the came to be where they are, what their interests are, and what is going on in their lives that might offer an opportunity for assistance of some kind. They make a promise to do something to help the other person and then they make sure they do it. They are careful to choose groups and events that will attract the people they want in their network. They are all about developing trust and serving others. Authentically, with no quid pro quo expected.

This is definitely not a new concept. I've observed that very few sales folks, even highly effective sales folks, understand Trust Based Selling. I've noticed that the most effective networkers DO understand Trust Based Selling and they carry it over to their networking activities. Those who fail at networking are also pretty poor sales people; they are inconsistent in their results and their customers are not at all loyal.

Here are some resources on these topics:
Never Eat Alone – by Keith Ferrazzi
Trusted Advisor – by David Maister
Trust Based Selling – by Charles Green
Other great resources might be Think and Grow Rich (mastermind concepts), How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Tiberias Success Factor.

What are you doing to network properly? Are you building long term relationships or collecting contacts?

Download our 8 Point Hiring Process Assessment Scorecard. Use this to ensure your hiring methodology is as effective as it can be for 2010.

Would all your employees describe your culture the same way? This a critical when networking and hiring. Our Cultural Assessment Worksheet will help you ensure you have a consistent understanding of your business culture.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Networking . . . Part (2)

In a previous post, I got on my soapbox concerning networking etiquette and what I believe networking really is all about, and that is building trust and long term relationships. I mentioned that it is a long and difficult process. It is also highly rewarding. If you buy into my concept of networking, then you are also likely recognizing that you can never stop networking; even when gainfully employed.

This situation, continuous networking, is not at all unlike the dilemma I discovered when I founded my consultancy. While I'm delivering services, I'm not marketing. Inevitably, I'd wake up one day and realize I had “no place to go.” And then I'd start the long process of marketing again and hope that something turned up soon. The same is true if you're a “W2 employee” and you let your network lapse while you are focused on your job at the company you serve. At some point, you will realize it's time for you to “move on,” and you'll have to scramble to build your network.

So how do we address this situation? I have no silver bullet to offer. My sense is that the only thing to do is to make sure you keep a core group of maybe ten to twenty really close relationships alive and well no matter what you are doing. That way, it will take less time to reconstruct a meaningful network when the time comes. Find ways to stay in touch and help your key network relationships. Send useful articles, keep up to date on what they are doing, meet for coffee or a quick, early breakfast. Stay focused on them.

There may be some help here in using the now “hot” technology of social networking software. It's amazing how well LinkedIn works to help me stay in touch with colleagues. I'm now exploring using this blog, Facebook, and Twitter as a way of staying in touch and providing value. I'm not sure what will finally shake out as being the most effective, but I'm giving it the good old “college try.” You might want to explore using technology to help you keep in touch with your network as well. Remember though, it's about providing value, not self-serving.

Data I've seen in multiple places indicates that “C-Suite” positions last an average of 24 to 36 months. “C-Suite” executives do not find their next assignment on Monster or other media. They find it through their network. So you'll need your network every 2 or 3 years and it takes a year, minimum, to build a solid network of colleagues. It's not what you know, it's not even who you know. It's really who knows you. And as we've discussed, that means you have to be genuinely interested in knowing and supporting those in your network first.

Download our 8 Point Hiring Process Assessment Scorecard. Use this to ensure your hiring methodology is as effective as it can be for 2010.

Would all of your employees describe your culture the same way? This is critical when networking and hiring. Our Cultural Assessment Worksheet will help you to ensure that you have a consistent understanding of your business culture.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Networking . . . Part (1)

I've managed, somehow, to develop a network of colleagues who will often refer folks to me for many different reasons; potential clients, business owners, and increasingly executives in transition. This economy has become very challenging for everyone.

What strikes me is that there is so little knowledge about what networking really is all about. Many very accomplished salespeople, executives, business owners and “C-suite” folks THINK they know, but the evidence is to the contrary.

I receive a fair amount of “introductions” to people through e-mail. It's another sign of the times and I too use e-mail to introduce people. After one such recent introduction, the person introduced contacted me by e-mail. Attached was a very detailed resume (bad in itself) and another document of “target companies.” The body of the e-mail said essentially; “Hi, I'm glad so-and-so introduced us. I'm working to expand my network. I'm a high level executive . . . blah, blah, blah!” This went on for a couple of paragraphs and then the person asked for three or four names from my Rolodex that might be good contacts for them.

Then came the clincher: “I know networking is about helping others. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help you.” Right. Ninety-nine percent of first communication is about you, 1% is an after thought, throw away sentence acknowledging the recipient and that's going to fly? I think not.

Networking, properly done, is always and only about what you can do to help the other person. Not about getting something for yourself. The person above did not have permission from me, did not yet know me, and should never have assumed I care about his plight/resume/target companies or anything else. I certainly am not going to introduce him to my network of trusted colleagues (who in turn trust me not to waste their time) based on that e-mail and attachments. Here's a hard message for folks in transition to internalize: “Nobody cares about you.” . . . . Yet.

Instead, in building your network, it is critical to be authentically interested in helping the other person. The universe is indifferent, but generally fair in that “what goes around comes around.” You can't fake this. It will be sensed that you are being manipulative – “S/he's only acting interested because s/he wants something.” You have to build trust, give me a sense that you have my best interest at heart (or at least don't intend to just “use me.”)

That's why it takes a very long time to build a network. If you are introduced to me by one of my trusted inner circle of colleagues, then you have a leg up. Don't destroy that budding trust by assuming you have permission to sell me something or ask me a favor.

So how do I go about this myself? Well, not perfectly for sure. Here's what I attempt to do and actually do accomplish when I'm at my best. I would write that e-mail when Joe introduces me to Sue, copy both and say something along the lines of: “Hi Joe and Sue. Thanks for the introduction Joe. I am always willing to reach out to someone in your network of colleagues. Sue, I'd love to know more about what you're doing these days. Joe introduced us believing that in some way our relationship might be beneficial. Do you have any time over the next couple of weeks for a quick cup of coffee or a phone call? Let me know and we'll try to match calendars.”

I would then go out of my way to figure out how I can do something to help Sue. Find an article or perhaps make an introduction to someone else that would be mutually beneficial. I would only share about my own situation and how Sue can help me after she asks for that information. Which will only be after she has some feeling of trust that I'm not focused only on me and my own needs. If I'm focused on my own needs, then I don't have her best interests at heart. If I don't have her best interests at heart she cannot trust me to do what's right, only what works for me.

Think about this. If you are introduced to someone as a possible beneficial relationship, do not burn the bridge with the new connection by being focused on yourself. Also, when you “blow the introduction,” you will cause damage to the person who introduced you in the first place. They won't make the mistake of bringing you into their network again. This takes time. This is difficult. This takes lots of energy because you really do have to do something for someone else, not just hang your resume on every phone pole. If you're going to try to network, then learn the intricacies. This is not a game for amateurs.

Download our 8 Point Hiring Process Assessment Scorecard. Use this to ensure your hiring methodology is as effective as it can be for 2010.

Would all of your employees describe your culture the same way? This is critical when networking and hiring. Our Cultural Assessment Worksheet will help you to ensure that you have a consistent understanding of your business culture.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.