It is amazing how many opportunities we have to meet new people easily (read “potential job lead connections”) and in the most surprising places. A client of mine, Jennifer, had jury duty this week and was excited to tell me about some networking that fell in her lap that day! We all know how much time you sit around in a crowded room with others serving their civic duty, and most people bring books, laptops, tablets, and more to stay occupied during the wait.
Jennifer is a senior in college and currently searching for an Engineering position. She brought some trade journals to read during her wait with other jurors. This prompted an inquiry from the man next to her, Brad, and it turned out he was an Engineering student as well. Another woman overhearing their discussion, piped in that her son, Rick – an Engineering major, recently got a job with Company XYZ. Later in the day as she was reading one of her Engineering journals, a 50-something woman, Sharon, noticed the journal cover on robotics and introduced herself as an engineer working for a small company specializing in defense robotics. Jennifer left that day with phone numbers and email addresses for Brad, Rick, and info that Company XYZ is hiring. She obtained Sharon’s business card to connect on linkedin and had received an offer from Sharon’s to reach out to her in the Spring. Jennifer can now keep in touch with Brad and they can help each other with job leads. She can contact Rick and establish a connection with him as well as garner info on hiring needs at the company. She can research the company on her own, and see if they have positions posted on their website.
So, carry trade journals or books related to your field when you are going to be waiting (doctors” offices, car tune ups, your kids’ soccer games, and of course, jury duty!) and you will increase the odds of connecting with others in unexpected places!
Most of you have heard of an “Elevator Speech,” right? The story goes something like this – let’s say you have an interview for a job you really want. You get into the elevator on the first floor of the building and find out the other person in the elevator is the head honcho who is going to have the final say in whether you get hired. You now have about 60 seconds to ride in the elevator with her to the top floor. When she finds out that you are the candidate under consideration, she seems curious about you. What “speech” can you give her in that elevator ride to peak her interest and ensure that you get the offer? Ahhhhh! If you don’t know, then you need to figure this out – and fast!
You meet people all the time, especially if you are networking, attending professional organization meetings, and actively pursuing job leads. Sometimes, you really only have about an “elevator ride” worth of time to impress someone or not. So what can you do? Try to identify what you really want to market about yourself and what sets you apart out there. What value do you add? What do you want other networking professionals to remember about you? Practice your “elevator speech” out loud. Listen to other people’s answers when you ask them what they do – what impresses you? Who do you remember and why? These are not easy questions to answer – but investing some time and careful thought into your “elevator speech” can create a lot of opportunities for you.
If you are at a networking event, be sure that your interaction is not “just about you.” It’s important to focus on building relationships, too. So show interest in the other person and ask how you might be able to help them. You will certainly be remembered for that!
Sometimes, you need to give yourself a little space to “Get your head back in the game.” Did you take some time off during the holidays – and now you are trying to get up and running again but it’s not working so well? It’s okay to take that step back sometimes to make a plan, so you can gain your foothold and move forward.
It’s kind of like that overwhelming feeling that you have when you return to work or a project after taking some time off. Especially when it’s Monday morning. You are swamped with email, voicemail, social media messages to go through and you do not even know where to start. How do you begin so you feel you are making progress and addressing priorities?
My favorite way to tackle this is with good, old-fashioned lists. I actually start before I take time off….really. I create a “to do list” of the most important things I should check for upon my return. I also try to avoid any appointments on the morning of day 1 to get organized and allow time for any crisis that may have arisen. Next, I create a 3-column list as I do an initial scan of messages: top priorities go in the “A” column, medium priorities in the “B” column, and not urgent in the “C” of course. Then, I go back to column A and start addressing those high priority items.
Do it one step at a time and try not to skip around so that you can complete tasks. Schedule break time to take a deep breath. Now – slowly go grab some coffee (or your favorite drink!) and you will be back in the game in no time!