So I hear your pain lately. Work is hard to find, and it is becoming hard to set yourself apart from the competition. I’ve talked to you about the importance of education, certifications, going to networking events, and having an online presence. My hope is that some of you can put all of this together and develop a referral machine that will keep you working all the time — no matter the state of the economy. However, I understand that some people need a little more direct instruction.
This is a surefire way to get hired when a field landman broker has open positions that you are qualified for. Don’t confuse what I’m saying, not just anyone can do this. It takes someone who has done the work I mentioned above. You have to be involved in the industry, you have to actually work to meet people, you have to be trying to get your name out there. When times are hard, you have to ramp up the intensity of everything you do.
When I interview, I always try to work in five minutes of discussion time on the fact that I network heavily in the oil & gas industry. I let them know that I maintain friendships with companies I’ve worked with the past, and people I meet in my everyday wanderings. I let them know that I am an active member of the AAPL, and several local associations. I explain what I mean by an active member. (I go to events, I contribute where I can, I get involved in service functions where time allows.)
Then I go one step farther. I tell them that I’d be willing to assist with any business development plans that they have to market to clients that I may have a personal relationship with. Right off the bat this does a few things:
- It establishes that you are more than just a body to fill a position and make a dayrate off of.
- It shows that you have something concrete to offer over and above most applicants.
- It invites the company to involve you in higher level functions in their organization.
I’ll warn you, don’t try this plan unless you can back it up. About 30% of the time when I have this discussion it turns into a 20 minute discussion. The person I’m talking to usually says something to the effect of “I’ve been trying to get some work from x, y, and z company over the last few months.” Be careful with this question. One of two things is happening:
- The interviewer has friends at these companies and is gauging your contacts by seeing who you know. They may already even have work at these companies, and will reference check you against the name that you throw out.
- The interviewer legitimately has been trying to get work from these companies and they will expect for you to make an introduction if you indicate you can do so.
I have a few standard answers to this type of question, depending on my knowledge of those companies. I rarely ever give information on more than one of the companies they might list, even if I know more.
- “Yes, I see the land manager from Blue Junction Oil, Joe Bob, at XYZ type of function a few times a year. We are acquaintances but he doesn’t come to my kids birthday parties or anything.” (I make poor attempts at humor)
- “I used to work for Michael over at Oil Wells Inc., he’s a good guy. I know they don’t have much work right now, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t consider you after they complete an acquisition I’ve heard they are doing.”
- “I don’t know anyone at those companies, but I do have friends and X, Y, and Z companies. I do network pretty heavily though, I’d bet one of my friends has a good contact at <whatever company they listed>. “
Obviously, not just anyone can use this tactic. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it isn’t for someone new to the business. You need to be active, you need to be involved, and you need to be willing to put your money where your mouth is. Notice that I don’t make promises I can’t keep, and that I’ll never tell anyone I can guarantee them work. I am not their business development guy, and getting them work isn’t my job. However, I can be a team player and get them in the door.
I’ll leave you with one note of caution: Do not do this if all you can offer is introductions to your previous in-house supervisors with previous brokers. If you try to introduce your new broker to your old brokers client I can guarantee what will happen. The in-house person you solicit will fire off a quick email to your previous broker and tell them exactly what you did. If your luck you’ll just get blacklisted by that broker, if your unlucky you could find yourself getting sued for breaching confidentiality.
Do you have any other suggestions on this topic? Tell us about it in the comments below!