When career strategist Marty Latman advises people to always be connected, most people get it … mostly.

People who learn and practice networking usually succeed in landing their desired position. But then they make a mistake; they fail to stay connected. “Landing is temporary. Being in transition is your permanent position,” says Latman. The current job duration for wage and salary workers is about 4.2 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the recruiters Latman works with say the duration for executive officer positions is often less than two years.

Latman will speak about networking and communicating your professional value at the Princeton Public Library on Friday, May 19, from 9:45 a.m. to noon. To register or learn more, contact the Professional Service Group of Mercer County at psgofmercercounty@gmail.com. Latman’s presentation will cover solutions to the challenges people face when seeking new positions or promotions, including being “over-qualified” or not having experience that matches the job description.

Latman’s expertise is based on 40 years of helping businesses and professionals, and his experience working with clients at Latman Advisory Services (latmanadvisoryservices.com), which offers business and financial consulting and career coaching.

Latman, who learned the importance of people skills from his mother, understood the value of networking even before starting his career path. But it was the during aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center that led to him to be become the networking coach and public speaker he is today. In 2001 he had been operating a business in New York City. He recalled the days following the attack; in addition to feeling emotional pain and shock, people who had been displaced from jobs were looking for help. He began sharing his networking skills with others and gradually became known as “the people connector” and “master networker.”

A common belief about networking is that you just need to know a lot of people. But, Latman says, it’s not just about how many people you know, it’s about how well you know each other. Networkers are more likely to be referred when others know about their technical skills and experience, and their skills in relating to other people.

Latman recalls a conversation with someone who called him asking for help. After exchanging greetings, the conversation went like this:

Caller: I want to network with you.

Latman: OK. Let’s network.

(Pause)

Caller: Well, I want to network with you.

Latman: OK. Let’s network.

(Pause)

Caller: Well, will you give me the names of three people I can contact?

Latman: Absolutely not.

Caller: Well, um … I thought …. I thought you could help me.

Latman: I can help you, but I can’t recommend you to anyone until I get to know you.

After further conversation, the caller agreed to join one of Latman’s networking groups. Latman learned about the caller, his strengths and goals, and how he could help employers in his field. Within a few months, the caller was hired by a lead Latman had given him.

Another belief about networking and interviewing is that you just need to talk about your skills and strengths. What’s more important is the ability to tell prospective employers how you can add value to the company, Latman says. Companies hire people to help them, to solve problems. It’s important to understand the company’s challenges as well as the staff does — if not better — and communicate to the company how you will add value by solving their problems.

Another key is being likable, having a positive attitude, and showing a genuine interest in the company. Regardless of one’s skills, hiring managers don’t make offers to people they don’t like.

A common challenge among job seekers is the perception that they don’t have the right experience for the job. Latman helps people to identify transferable skills from past positions and show employers how these skills can address the organization’s needs. His expertise is based on years of working with job seekers and his personal experience. Several years ago, he interviewed for a high-level management position with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and was challenged by one of the key interviewers because he lacked experience with not-for-profit organizations.

He responded that the could easily learn the not-for-profit regulations, and he understood what the organization really needed: someone who knew cash management, and someone who could help them reorganize departments and responsibilities. “That’s the issue you have,” he said, “and this is what I can do for you.” As a result, he was hired as chief financial officer.

As a boy growing up in Brooklyn, Latman had no thoughts about working in finance or business consulting. An avid Dodgers fan, he wanted to be a baseball player. But his father, an appliance repairman, and his mother, a homemaker, convinced him to pursue an academic education after high school. He went on to earn a finance degree at the State University of New York, Albany.

Since then he has worked in the business arena serving companies and individuals as chief financial officer, consultant, coach, and speaker. His clients range from those in entry level positions to those at the top of their fields. Not mentioning names in respect for client confidentiality, Latman says he has advised someone who occupied the oval office, someone who signs our dollar bills, and chairmen of the biggest corporations in the U.S. He says he has learned something from everyone he has worked with.

Latman attributes much of his success as a career strategist and networking coach to the fact that he enjoys getting to know people. “People are interesting,” says Latman. “A person likes someone who has an interest in him and listens when he talks. Then, he will want to know about you. One thing leads to another. I call it the Johnny Appleseed approach. You have to plant the seeds,” he says.

“Being in a time of transition is a good time, and once you have gone through one, the next time will be a lot easier because you know what to expect,” says Latman. “People have a fear of the unknown. But when you go through a transition, it’s generally a good thing because you see your strengths, your weaknesses, what you like and don’t like. You get to see what makes you tick.”

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