The experience of pounding the pavement --electronic as well as real-- looking for a CIO position was new and not necessarily welcome to Weaver. "The market was being flooded with senior IT professionals right at the same time that I was beginning to look around. It was disheartening. In the past, I had always had people banging on my door." In addition to real positions in the jobs database, there was support from others going through the same difficult transition.
Networking: A Two-Way Street
One particularly helpful point came during a conversation with ExecuNet's founder, Dave Opton. "He emphasized that I would have to actively participate in the process and take advantage of all the resources ExecuNet has to offer," says Weaver. "It was excellent advice because I was so used to people pursuing me."
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Opton often tells new ExecuNet members that the main thing they bring to the network is an attitude about giving. "If you're prepared to give in any way you can, we can help each other," says Opton, in Norwalk, Conn. Why should a paying customer be so concerned with giving back to the group? For the simple reason that's how a network works.
For example, if you interviewed for a CIO position that was not right for you, the best thing to do would be to share that information with the network so that someone else could have a chance to go for the position. "For most people, the word "networking" makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up. They have a bad feeling about it because they feel like they're asking for something. We talk about linkages, putting people together with opportunities that make sense for them," says Opton, who worked as a traditional executive recruiter prior to founding ExecuNet in 1988. The key is looking at the exercise as a process (career management), rather than a project (to find a job).
In June of last year Weaver posted his resume for a CIO position on ExecuNet. An executive recruiter responded to his resume, arranging two phone interviews and then a face-to-face meeting. Less than six weeks from first contact, he had a firm job offer in hand. He is now CIO at Pure Fishing Inc., a fishing equipment manufacturer in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
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|CIN internet.com ZDNet CNET Society for Information Management ExecuNet The Conference Board|
"I'm very happy. I think there's an excellent marriage between my skills and the needs of the organization that I joined," he says. Weaver credits ExecuNet with getting him over the hurdle of getting the in-person interview. "I had quite a few telephone interviews but getting the face-to-face is something of a challenge," he says. Weaver perceived that the positions on ExecuNet were higher caliber and more in line with his abilities, which made for a better match.
All in all, it's hard to imagine what there is to lose by being a member of an online CIO group like CIN. You never know what you're going to find there --some free advice from peers who have been there, a heads-up on a job opening before it's been advertised, or perhaps a chance to benchmark a particular technology with another company. Says John Panicker, "It's a free resource. You might as well take advantage of it."
Lauren Gibbons Paul is a freelance writer in Waban, Mass. Send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This column first appeared on CIN, an internet.com site for IT executives.