Within everyone you meet, you are likely to discover a far more helpful and interesting person than you first thought, who's nature it is to want to help others; they just don't always know how. All it takes is a little bit of encouragement and some direction. In other words, tell others how to help and they will.
Easier said than done? Unfortunately, yes. Most of us have never been trained in this sort of work. Even the most senior managers are novice job searchers and can become discouraged. Still, you can make job searching less complicated and career management more of a reality. Begin replacing some of the hours spent scanning the classifieds with time spent investigating fields of interest for "clues" to where the jobs are – movement in the market, events that may provide some hint of where jobs are developing. Next, take the information you collect and begin having meaningful face-to-face discussions with those you know and trust leading to discussions with those you don't yet know. In these discussions you may uncover yet more clues to where the jobs may be hatching and perhaps get to them before the crowd does.
Any activity created by movement in business, industry segments or entire markets are the clues you want to uncover. Such "movement '" may be a merger or an acquisition or divestiture, an IPO or a Board-level management change. It may be a leadership vacuum or a company expanding, new markets emerging, businesses re-emerging or new products being introduced. For example, if there's a new 'wonder drug' under development somewhere, get in there and talk to someone before they announce its release; and while everyone else is waiting for the help-wanted sign to go up, you're negotiating your next job. In theory, you'll find more opportunities making new friends than looking at jobs. Here are some practical suggestions:
· Begin every conversation, actual or virtual, with this maxim in mind: People buy your questions not your answers.
· Get ready. The question, 'what are you looking to do' can befuddle the unsuspecting person forcing a response that is weak, irrelevant or worse, fatal.
· "Call ya mutha" or a friend, before the all important networking call to get warmed-up; speaking out loud and articulating your thoughts, any thought at all, is good exercise.
· Get up on your feet when you call. Have you ever seen a chorale group sitting? You need to stand to speak well and project.
· Don't begin a meeting asking for advice.
· Get to know others before you ask them to know you; ask questions, listen and learn.
· Always provide ideas before asking for any.
· Move people towards embracing your ideas by listening respectfully to theirs.
· Don't ask others to be creative or perceptive for you; it's too much work. Map out what you want them to do; they'll appreciate it.
· Look people in the eye and don't judge; reflect on what they are saying.
· Never try to wing-it. Even on stage at "The Improv" America's premier comedy showcase, the improvisation isn't impromptu.
· Don't use jargon. If someone understands it, they really won't be impressed; if they don't, they'll take out a book and read.
So, after you define your next great opportunity – what it is you want to do, how you want do it, with whom, when, for how much and to what end … and before you spend dozens of hours in the hunt for that job, spend a few rebuilding acquaintances and making friends.