Why Fly Fishing Beats a Net

There are many paradoxes when marketing yourself or your business, and one of the most powerful paradoxes is “The narrower your focus, the wider your opportunity.”

This defies logic. You’d think that a broad, sweeping approach might be best–something like fishing with a big net. Picture someone casting a net into a lake. Will he get the fish he wants? Maybe. But he’ll also get everything else–other types of fish, seaweed, old boots, maybe even a rusty car part or two.

Fly fishing is an elegant sport where the fisherman uses a very specific fly, often made by hand, then casts that fly into a very specific body of water, looking for a very specific type of fish. Just like target marketing.

Larry Nash, Ernst & Young’s director of experienced and executive recruiting, agrees. In an article in eFinancialCareers.com, “How to land a job at Ernst & Young” by Beecher Tuttle, Mr. Nash gives some great tips for those who are interested in working for this global consulting firm. His advice is pertinent to anyone who is networking either to make a job transition or to build a business. He also supports my principle of The Golden Rolodex–you know way more people than you think.

“First, I’d encourage everyone to use your online networks to see who you know who works at the company or who knows someone there,” Mr. Nash said. “Make an introduction and ask for a referral. People should recognize that their network is likely much more expansive than they think. It’s not just who you went to school with or former colleagues, but everyone you know, people you go to church with, for example. Then you can tap into their network.”

fly-fishing-malibuAccording to Mr. Nash, targeting the organization is as important as identifying the people you want to reach. “It helps you focus on who you should network with. One of the common frustrations is receiving an application for lots of jobs. Some people may apply to hundreds of jobs, making it hard for an organization because you don’t know where they want to work. When networking, it’s good to have a targeted approach.”

Knowing what you want is the first step to your career satisfaction. Before you start fishing, figure out what kind of fish you want to catch. Then prepare accordingly.

(Photo credits: Bob Hutchinson, masthead; Graham Owen, www.grahamowengallery.com, Malibu fly fishing)