If you’re considering a job change or in the middle of a job search and you are also on your way to the National Show, this column is for you. Before you fill your suitcase full of resumes and business cards here’s some advice that’ll help you stay ahead of the game when you’re on the show floor. Dress for success: Leave the cable clothes (e.g. Looney Tunes ties, company golf shirts) at home and dress like the professional you want to be! Avoid the "consultant" job title: It seems like everyone’s a consultant when they’re out of work. If that were true the cable industry would have the largest cottage industry of consultants around. Tell the truth. If you say you’re a consultant, potential employers might think you’re not looking for a job or they may not be looking to hire a consultant. Use the million dollar question: You might say something like, "I left my old position to pursue something new. I’m really interested in (fill in this blank). Do you know anyone I might talk to in this space?" Now you’re in the game and being honest! Keep your eyes on the prize: Nothing is more irritating than someone who doesn’t make eye contact, or worse yet, keeps looking past the person they are talking to see who else is there-as if to say, "Gee, I bet there’s someone more important than you I should be talking with right now!" Like Atlanta’s Georgia’s Jimmy Carter, engage the executive you are talking with like they’re the only person on the entire show floor. No stalking: You may have a copy of Steve Burke’s itinerary, but stalking him won’t get you a job at Comcast. If anything, it’ll probably do the opposite. High-level executives rarely do any hiring, so don’t waste your time following them like the paparazzi. If you do find yourself face-to-face with one of them introduce yourself and have your elevator speech and business card ready. The K.I.S.S. rule (keep it simple stupid) applies here, so do your best to be cordial, concise and interesting. The Rolodex factor: Whether you’re standing in line at Starbucks or taking your seat at the general session, be sure to introduce yourself to the person next to you. He/she could be the head of recruiting for Viacom or Motorola, or the hiring manager’s assistant-everyone is equal in the eyes of the Rolodex! And yours will expand quickly this way. Leave a calling card: Even if you’re not currently employed, bring business cards. Having a card with your contact information on it is a great way to stay fresh in the minds of potential employers after they get back to their office. Be sure to collect other people’s cards too. Follow up with a brief e-mail when you get home and be sure to include the magic question, "Do you know anyone I might be able to contact who is in the space I’m interested in?" The Rule of Threes is in play here, so try to get three names you can contact. I’ve drug my poor husband, Lew, around the country as I followed my career and every time he’s networked his way into a great job just by asking the magic question. Just remember, it’s not about getting a job; it’s about networking-the job is secondary. No party crashing: Crashing parties works for those guys in Wedding Crashers, but it’s one of the worst things you can do at the National Show. Imagine how bad it would look if you were seen finagling your way into a party by the head of human resources of a company you were interviewing at, or by another senior officer ? Besides, I’ve been to enough parties in my career to know no one wants to talk jobs when the music’s so loud you can barely hear each other. Visit the aquarium or museum or Atlantic Station and have some fun while you’re here! Looking for a job can be a scary thing, but by following these guidelines and keeping things light and informal you can find success and avoid being the next National Show horror story. Good luck! Maggie Bellville is a partner in the Atlanta-based executive search firm Carter Baldwin. She can be reached at mbellville@carterbaldwin.com.

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