On yer bike!

What’s the best way to market yourself to find work?

I recently received a video link from a friend of mine, Geoff Marshall:



Geoff wants to find work as a video producer and his aim is to make this video go viral in the hope that someone will see it and think ‘I like this guy, I’ll give him a job.’ To this end he’s reaching out to lots of people he knows and asking them to tweet about it, publicize it, etc.

I think the video is both good and a good idea, and that it will help Geoff in his search for work…but not quite for the reasons he hopes.

I know Geoff due to a shared interest in travelling around London using the tube, and whilst vaguely aware that he’d previously worked for the BBC, when I think of Geoff I think of tube trains [sorry mate!].

If you asked me yesterday to suggest someone who could help with a short video I would probably only have thought of Jordan Mendenhall at Sentient Cinema in Los Angeles. I’ve helped financially back one of their films, and he keeps me up-to-date with developments on it.

Jordan is on my mind, and I can recall unprompted that he works in film and what his skills are.

Now even though Geoff’s done some freelance video work on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show on Absolute Radio, this was not on my mind at all – even though I had actually recommended him to the show’s producer sometime last year! But today, he is.

Jeffrey Pfeffer talks about the importance of building efficient and effective social networks in his book, Power: Why Some People Have It – And Others Don’t:

You can’t select what you can’t remember. The effect of mere exposure on preference and choice is important and well demonstrated. Networking brings you into contact with more people and keeps you in contact with them, thereby increasing the chances that when they are searching for a candidate for some position they will remember you.

In the early 1970s sociologist Mark Granovetter conducted a classic study in Boston about how people find jobs. Some of his results were not so surprising, e.g., that the more that one used social ties as opposed to formal applications the better the job the individual found. One result was counter-intuitive though:

What was surprising was the type of social ties that mattered in the job finding process: weak ties.

Strong ties – your close friends and family – are more likely to travel in the same circles and to provide redundant information. Weak ties, by contrast, are more likely to link you to new people and organisations. To be useful though, they must be both able to link you, and willing to do so. Geoff’s video addresses all these points. It’s going to be seen by a lot of his weak ties, they will then be able to link him (they now know what he does and can recall it) and would likely be willing to do so (the video is fun and professional enough that you wouldn’t be afraid of later looking stupid if you recommend him to a friend).

Geoff could send out such a video every quarter or so to keep his place in people’s minds as someone who works in video and is available for hire. I am now one such person, and there have been 700 other views of his video at the time of writing – that’s a lot of people who might now make an introductory connection to a friend or colleague if the topic of video producing comes up.

He might also build a more focused list of people closer to the industry he’s targeting. In this database he can make notes of what would be useful to each person, e.g., ‘Daniel is interested in chroma key’ and periodically send articles and notes about that as he comes across them to Daniel. In Never Eat Alone,  Keith Ferrazzi’s book on networking, this is described this as ‘pinging’, and he has this to say,

the governing principle here is repetition; find a way to ensure that you’ll contact people regularly without putting too much strain on your schedule.

Good luck, Geoff!


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