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Four secrets to finding companies flying under the radar

Large corporations are not the place to look for jobs if you're an executive. If the corruption of Wall Street and the bloodbaths at the mega-corporations haven't convinced you not to count on a job there, think of this. Most large corporations are far less eager to hire workers over the age of 40 than smaller corporations are. While age discrimination is illegal, it is also commonplace.

The greatest opportunities and wealth potential are also found at smaller corporations, unless you're a "C" Suite executive at one of the really big companies. These companies cannot afford to discriminate on the basis of your age. They need your expertise and wisdom. So, take a look at smaller companies, even if you came from a mega-corp. You'll be glad you did.

That leads us to the question of how to find these companies. While finding these companies is a challenge, it can be done. Here are a few tips to help you discover the companies "flying under the radar."

1). Network intelligently. Some executives hit every networking venue available when job-hunting. Others just call their golfing buddies. Neither is very effective for finding the smaller companies that could use your skills.

The large networking events require some companions to help you get through the room. Agree to take different parts of the room, collect 2 business cards from each person, and have one person scan the cards and send the names out to all of the companions who are group-networking, with a note as to who collected the card. When calling these contacts, mention the name of the person they actually met, and say "Bob Jones (or whoever) suggested I give you a call to increase both our networks."

Also be willing to be a bit rude at these events. There will be vendors, salespeople and "consultants" crawling out of the woodwork. Be prepared to rapidly move on from these folks unless you need their services or they can help you.

Network mostly at events and venues (Association for Corporate Growth is a good one chapters.acg.org/denver/) that cater to executives rather than to the general networking public. There are also a couple of venues in Denver exclusively for networking executives that are a "sales free" zone. Find out about them and attend them. Some are even free to attend.

You might also consider looking into one of the place you can "buy" a network. It isn't cheap, but can be worth it.

2). Get to know investors. Denver has the Rockies Venture Club (www.rockiesventureclub.org/) , which is a great place to get to know these folks. Most other larger towns have an investors' club as well. Go often so you will get to know people and be recognized as a "regular." Also, ask your friends and colleagues in business which investors they know.

3). Thoroughly read business publications. This publication often does profiles of up and coming companies. Watch the local business publications for updates, news stories, profiles, and lists of companies that are "off the radar." Make sure you contact those that look interesting just to see what's up. Many of these discussions have rapidly turned into viable offers for my clients, and they can for you, too.

4). Use LinkedIn well. First rule of LinkedIn is never say you don't know someone if they invite you. This is both incredibly stupid and incredibly rude. The second rule is to accept all invitations. By expanding your network, especially in your hometown, you'll be able to contact almost anyone.

LinkedIn, for some reason, discourages open networking. They're wrong. Open networking and having a large number of LinkedIn connections are the best ways of using this important business tool to give you access to most people in a city. I accept every invitation I receive, and it has dramatically helped both me and my clients.

You're allowed to join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. Join several groups that specialize in executive job search and the local area. You can contact all other group members easily. There is even a group on LinkedIn to teach you LinkedIn strategies with free webinars.

Take a class, read a book, go to a webinar or get a media coach to help you learn this, and other social media venues such as Facebook and Twitter that can be used to help find a job.

The keys to finding great hidden companies are networking and research. Get those who are experienced in both to help you learn to network and research well, and you'll be able to spot your next career adventure.

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John Heckers

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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