Your job search is about finding people, not jobs. The people will lead you to the jobs. The more you are “out there” meeting people, talking to them, the better. You are a walking resume – you will sell yourself better and separate yourself more from the clutter with personal contact than a resume in a stack of 100 other resumes.
The key is to know you can add value to others (be confident in your own ability) even though you are searching and they are employed. Do NOT give away your power. You can always find something the other party is interested in or curious about to follow-up with and show you are helping them. This leverages the social dynamic of reciprocity – we want to help those who help us.
This approach also removes the “I am looking for a job” context of the conversation. If you go in looking for a job as your perspective, it is very easy for the other party to shut the interaction down, or at best, meet with you to be polite, then when you follow-up, they will likely say “Sorry, I am not aware of any openings.”
Remember, you are looking for people, not jobs – just building your network. I would end my conversations with “Can you tell me about the 2 or 3 people you admire most in your life?” Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so 100% of the time they would oblige. Then I would ask, “Would you mind if I contact these people since I am interested in meeting good people?” Again, 100% of the time they would agree. So, I quickly built a network of good, connected people, some of whom shared my info with others they knew who had a job and some who I met who decided to create a job for me.
You have to trust the process. Like money in the bank, you have to make the deposit (i.e.., control the inputs, make contacts), then the compounding interest will take care of itself. Interest rate might go up or down, but it is always working for you behind the scenes. Just keep making the deposits (contacts).
The Success Tree
Discovering the importance to look back at those who helped me led me to develop my “Success Tree™” exercise; a process which I use when teaching senior management mentoring and leadership skills. Trace the roots of relationships that impacted their careers or business success. Here’s how the process works:
- Think of a recent success.
- Identify the individual who helped you, directly or indirectly, achieve this success.
- Recall how you met this person.
- Consider who initiated or facilitated this encounter – it could be an individual or a group.
- Picture the circumstances that prompted your actions.
- Continue this process as far back as you can remember.
- Start this process over again by recalling other successful achievements.
Contacting people who already know you and who may have supported you in the past is an effective and rewarding approach.
During economic times like those we are currently experiencing, everyone needs to connect and remember to say “thank you.” I suggest you take the time to draw your “Success Tree.” Trace the roots of your growth. Go as far back as you can remember. You will experience a powerful journey. Then take time to say “thanks,” and remind those who have helped you that you have not forgotten your success source. Then pass the process on as you mentor and coach others and watch your forest grow.
Lee J. Colan
The L Group, Inc.
Leadership at every level
consulting + resources + training