Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How to get ahead in Networking

The secret is in your approach:

If I said networking to you what thoughts would it evoke? Secret handshakes? Old Boy’s or Girl’s clubs? Standing in a room full of strangers not knowing who to talk to? Talking to someone who is trying to sell you their accounting services when really you want to be talking to the person over there who might be interested in your CV?

No wonder many people don’t like the thought of it. And yet we are told it is how to get on in business and in our careers. So, how can we be better at it? the secret lies in our approach.

A Networking scenario:

Let’s say you are at a jobs fair and there is an open network session. Consider these two instructions:
Go into that room full of people and see if you can get an interview from someone.
Go into that room full of people and start listening to people.

Which would you prefer to do? Would you be surprised to learn that the second approach is more likely to get you an interview?

Clear your mind:

The reason we are sometime afraid of networking is because we think we are meant to be selling something, when what we should be doing is listening. Listening is not 'hearing' words someone else says whilst we try and think of something to say back, but clearing our mind and actually listening to what is being said, learning about that person and what they are talking about. If you want to find out more about this I would recommend reading Dale Carnegie’s book: ‘How to win friends and influence people’.

Of course, when someone does turn around and ask what you do, you should have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready. This should be less about job titles and more about how you help others; how you can add value. When the people you connect with speak to others who might need your help, you will be recommended to them. And yes, the next blog will be about your 'elevator pitch'

Buying a television:

I am far more likely to buy a television based on a recommendation from someone I trust as oppose to what the manufacturer claims on their television advert. It is the same with networking. Listen to people and build relationships; you will be recommended to others.

Your thoughts:

If you have any advice or help for other readers, please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

What do you do next?

So, you know what your career anchors are, you know what you like doing and you know what you are good at. How do you use this information to find a great job?

You have already researched one side of the equation, now to look at the other; the job itself. Forget whether it's currently being advertised, does it actually exist? Is it likely to exist in the future? How can you find out? By doing some more research.

You may have decided that your career anchors limit you to a particular area. Which companies are in that area? How many people do they employ? What do they do? What are the challenges they face? What is it like to work there? With the internet and especially social media, it is fairly easy to find the answers to these questions.

Begin to be a voice. Through groups, pages, conversations, blogs etc. it is easier than ever to be heard, and if you have researched sufficiently the type of place you might like to work, it is very easy to be a new voice in that community. Remember, you are not asking for a job, you are just getting involved, contributing to the discussion, providing helpful information.

There may be many reasons why jobs come up, it might be because someone has left, it might be because demand is increasing, it might be due to a strategic expansion. Whatever the reason, the time it takes between identifying a need for a position and actually having someone in place can vary greatly, weeks, months even years. What tends to vary much less is the relative position of when that position is advertised; it is somewhere near the very end. So there is an opportunity of time between a position being known about and that position being advertised.

Remember, a hiring manager wants the best possible person for the role, someone who can do the job, will fit in and be an asset to the company. What if that someone was someone they already knew...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What do you like doing?

  It is one thing to find a career doing what you are good at but what if you don't like doing it? Normally one follows the other. You like doing something, so you do it more often and as a result you get better at doing it. But as mentioned in my previous blog, what you are actually good at depends on perspective; what do you think you're good at, as oppose to others. At least you definitely know what you do and don't like , don't you?

  Actually, it might be an easier question to answer. What don't you like doing? Maybe you work in an office but don't like talking to people on the phone. Or you might like working outside but not when it's raining. If you are currently working, what don't you like doing. If you are not working, what do you think you wouldn't like?

  In a previous role I wanted to know where all my time was going. I worked in an office and never seemed to get to the end of my to do list. So I recorded my daily activities for two months. Categories included; phone, email, meeting, database, travel, annual leave etc. When I analysed the results, I discovered two things. Firstly, I spent far too much time dealing with emails and secondly, I spent a disproportionally large amount of time doing database development. I concluded that I like database development. It seemed obvious, but I had never thought about it before. What do you spend a disproportionally large amount of time doing?

  Reading, listening, talking, organising, analysing, researching, problem solving, travelling, presenting, demonstrating, developing, processing, creating, caring, making, mending (and many more besides) are all activities that can be found in both work and leisure activities. What do you like doing? What are you good at? What do others think you are good at? What is on your list that meets all three of these criteria? How nice would it be if your job/career was doing exactly those things? Would that be your ideal job?

Monday, 11 June 2012

What are you good at?

  What would you say your boss is good at? What would you say your best friend is good at? What would you say your partner is good at? 

 Why is it comparatively easy to answer the above questions, but less easy to answer it ourselves? We know what we're not good at; that's an easy one to answer. So, how do we find out what we are good at and why is it important?

 If you know what your best friend is good at, might they know what you are good at? Who else might know what you are good at? There must be a reason why people come and speak to you when they have a particular problem.

 Are you a good listener, a good problem solver, someone who will speak up for you? In the last project you did why did your boss ask you to do a particular task?

 In reality, everyone you know already knows what you are good at. And you can be different things to different people. If you prefer not to ask them directly, the next time they ask for your help, consider why. Why you and not someone else?

 So, why is knowing what you are good at important? Consider your next career move; you could market yourself as having an extensive skill set or you could market the fact that you are good at what you do. 

Remember the advert 'It does exactly what it says on the tin', what does it say on your tin?

What needs does your future employer have and why should they choose brand 'you'?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

What are your career anchors?

  There is a huge unknown out there when we start to think about our future career, which is why, when I am helping people with their careers; I start with the known. This 'known' is what I call 'Career Anchors'.

 Career Anchors are often the things we have in our head when we are measuring up new opportunities. How much will it pay? Do I have to move? Can I afford to commute? Will it allow me to carry on with my studies? Can I work flexi-time? Do I want to work in an office? etc.

  The anchors invariably change over time so it often helps my clients to write down what their anchors are at that particular time. Clients can then be clear as to what they are looking for, or more importantly, what they are not looking for.

  In your current role; are all of your anchor 'needs' being met? What would you change if you could? If you are not currently working, think about your ideal job. Does it meet all of your anchor needs?

  Try this exercise:

  Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write 'work', on the other side write 'life'. Now imagine you are in your perfect job. Don't worry what exactly that is yet, just try to write down all the 'anchors' on each side of the paper. So, for example, if your dream job is working in an office, on the 'work' side, write down 'working in an office'. If your dream job is within walking distance of your house, on the 'life' side, write 'walk to work'.

  It doesn't matter too much which side you put things on, what does matter is what you write down. By writing down your anchors, you have just created your ideal 'work/life' balance.