In the IM market, getting the next job requires more than sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. By Sally O'Reilly
Networking is essential in any profession, but interim managers rely on contacts more than most. Figures on where interims get their assignments vary, but the Institute of Interim Management estimates that interims get around 50 per cent through providers, and 50 per cent through their own informal grapevine. So interims coming to the end of an assignment have a difficult balancing act to pull off - they must operate as highly effective full-time employees until their last day, but use their non-work time to network their way into the next job.
Good organisation is key, according to Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS. He advises the 5,000 interims on his company database to see themselves as "serious small businesses", working on their business plan, product and marketing strategy. "Networking is obviously an important part of this," he says. "But a lot of interims tend to push it down the list."
Russam GMS runs a range of training and development programmes, including twilight workshops, with speakers on issues like tax, IR35 or preparing a CV. But it is still up to interims to sell themselves, says Russam. "You need to build up a database of 500 people, then write letters, email, send CVs, and telephone the people on your list," he says. "If you work on this, and keep at it, you will have a network for the rest of your life."
Providers should be only part of that network. "Thirty to 40 of those 500 names will be agencies. They can only hand out work if they have it, and if you are the person best suited to that role," Russam insists.
Sticking to the rules is essential - networking can only go on after work hours. "Taking long lunches or spending half the afternoon on the phone finding your next assignment is not feasible," says Basil Lansdale, who has worked as an HR interim for 12 years, has 25 years' experience as a full-time HR manager and frequently works on assignments found by Global Executives. "IMs have to behave like model citizens," he says.
Jackie Hammond, an HR interim working mainly in professional services companies, agrees. "All the work has to go on in the evenings or at weekends, and if there is a particular event which is a networking opportunity, I