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Enda Goodwin

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Field Agent

Field Agent

Although you might think of the meetings you have at your target organizations with insiders, especially with hiring managers, as networking opportunities, they are very different from general networking SMART meetings. Meetings with hiring managers, even when there is no known opening, need to be thought of as interviews, or at least pre-interview meetings. Sooner or later the organization will have a need, and you want to position yourself as a prime candidate.

LHH recommends a particular approach when meeting with hiring managers: SELL. This approach is designed for use with contacts inside target organizations, especially hiring managers, and those above that level. It is more focused than the SMART approach, and does not include the use of a marketing plan or target list.

SELL consists of the following four steps: 

  • Summarize your message: Use your professional objective, positioning statement and, if necessary, your exit statement.
  • Explore their needs: Collecting further information about the needs of the targeted organization and of this particular hiring manager is central to this discussion. This information will enable you to be even more effective in your continuing pursuit of the organization, both in this meeting and after it.
  • Link your benefits to their needs: To whatever degree possible, mention the competencies you have that might fit the needs of the organization.
  • Leverage a next contact: Use information obtained in this meeting to arrange a next contact.

Sample Agenda for meeting with hiring managers

The SELL approach actually provides you with an agenda for meeting with hiring managers. Assuming the meeting to be 20 to 30 minutes long, we have included a suggested time allowance for each segment. Here's a suggested script, using the SELL approach.


I read your article in last week's Technology Today, and Eileen Williams suggested we might get acquainted. Eileen and I were colleagues at United Amalgamated Corporation several years ago. I understand from Eileen that you head up the Technology Division. Is that correct?

Summarize your message (3 minutes)

I'm an Information Technology Manager with a background in the application of technology in the areas of marketing, sales, manufacturing and accounting. I have worked with a Fortune 500 company very similar to yours, and have run my own business as a consultant to large firms in the IS/IT areas. I have extensive experience in accounting applications.

Explore their needs (10-15 minutes)

  • Based on what you said in your article, it sounds as if you are encountering some real challenges in integrating accounting applications across the enterprise. Is that correct?
  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • I read that your company recently introduced EntreWizard software. How is that working out?
  • What are your goals for your area of responsibility for the next year or two?
  • What do you see as the greatest recent contributions of your department to the firm as a whole?
  • What are some of your biggest challenges right now?
  • What kinds of projects are you engaged in right now?
  • What do you see as the most important qualities in an IT manager?
  • What do you see as the most important issues in building and maintaining high-quality enterprise-wide IT services?

Link your benefits to their needs (5-10 minutes)

  • As a consultant and an internal IT person, I've taken many of the same approaches as you have with accounting applications. I once had a situation similar to the one you described with your Peoria unit. In that case, I...
  • When I introduced EntreWizard at United Amalgamated, we were faced with some sticky problems with certain users...
  • I can certainly identify with those last two challenges you mentioned. My experience...

Leverage a next meeting (2 minutes)

  • My research on EntreWizard certainly tracks with your experience. I expect to talk to some other large users in the next few weeks. If I discover anything that might apply to your situation, I'll give you a call.
  • I know a consultant who often works with accounting applications of exactly the type you described. He may have some contacts among the programmers who created them. Sometimes they can provide information more useful than what you get through normal channels. I'll ask him if he can provide any introductions and get back to you. Would next Tuesday be a good time to call you?


  • Based on what I knew before I came today, I liked your organization. I'm leaving with even more admiration for what you're doing here. It also looks like you and I might have some shared interests, especially in the applications area. I'd really like to stay in touch. I'll call you next Tuesday and let you know what I found out about the programmers.

That's it!

Now please see the chart below comparing the SMART and SELL approaches. In Milestone 6, we discussed using the SMART approach in networking meetings. You will recall that with SMART, you summarize your message, describe your marketing plan, ask questions, ask for referrals and trade information. There are some fundamental differences between the SMART and the SELL approach, as shown in the following chart:



  • Meetings with people not currently employed at your target organizations.
  • Meetings with people inside target organizations, at your level and higher, especially hiring managers.
  • Early networking meetings designed to gather information and get your message out broadly.
  • Serious conversations with insiders at targets designed to cultivate an interest in you.
  • Job leads are not expected, but may occur.
  • It is only a matter of time until this organization has an appropriate opening: treat every conversation like an interview.
  • Always ask for referrals.
  • Do not ask for referrals because this may convey a lack of interest in this organization.
  • Pay attention to continuing or building the relationship.
  • Build as many working relationships as possible - one day you may be working there.
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