Going nowhere in your career? Here’s how to start important conversations to get you moving — and open doors to new opportunities.
Do you feel stuck in your job? Stuck in your career? Most people who are dissatisfied with their work don’t know how, or what, to change. Meanwhile, we’ve all seen the statistics about how a majority of people get their jobs. How? Contacts. Contacts. Contacts.
However, too many of us focus on the non-essentials. We put most of our focus on LinkedIn and job sites in our search for what is next. That’s understandable, as connecting with people can be scary. Sometimes, picking a new font for a CV feels safer than actually reaching out to a person.
If you want to make real change and progress in your career, though, it won’t be on paper – it will be the next important conversation you need to have, yet so few people do it. (Even fewer do it well.) Here are the six practical steps you need to follow if you want to activate real change in your career. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Map The People In Your Life
Get clear about who you know and who is in your life. Take two hours and map out the contacts around you. This should include colleagues, family, friends, neighbors, online friends, old school buddies — even the barista around the corner.
You might want to get a really good system for organizing all your contacts. However, a simple Excel sheet works just as well.
2. Identify Your Game Changers
Highlight the people who stand out. Those you feel could be a positive, contributing part to your change. Avoid the naysayers. Who works at a company you admire? What former school buddy is running an interesting company?
In a second step, expand your search. Identify people you look up to, but that you might not know. Who in your community is doing something important? What friend of a friend is pursuing a cause that gives you goosebumps? Think big, and list these people, no matter how far-fetched it seems.
3. Invite Them
The scariest part may be getting in touch. Ask a friend for an introduction if possible. If not, a quick email is a good start. Be honest about your intentions and let them know that he or she is a person you look up to and you want to buy them lunch, or schedule a quick call, to pick their brain. Most people enjoy a free lunch and meeting people who are inspired by what they do.
4. Prepare a Way To Help
Wonderful things happen when you focus on helping others. Can you introduce them to someone you know? Send an article about something they would enjoy? Check their website and give them some thoughts on how they could improve?
Or you could simply listen; consider asking questions about what inspires them, how they got where they are, or what they struggle with in their business. You will learn a lot and have more information on how to help them later.
Moving into a mindset of service and helping others may take some practice, but it will set you apart.
5. Have Fun
Show up well prepared, but never forget that they are people to. Don’t go into a meeting with a desperate need for a new job, even if this may be your current situation. Focus on being you: We all want to connect with interesting, fun people. Relax and don’t be scared to bring a laugh to the conversation.
You know the feeling when someone never replied to an email you wrote or stopped mid-conversation in a Facebook conversation? Don’t be that person. Be sure to keep in touch. You don’t want to be pushy, but send an email once in a while with a congrats for an award they won, a blog post they should read or just mention a situation where their advice helped you. Few people follow up well. If you do, you will automatically stand out and be top-of-mind.
This roadmap is not a quick fix — it’s a way of approaching your career. But you will realize that once you begin having important, conscious conversations – change becomes inevitable. New insights will come to you, your network will grow and opportunities will arise more abundantly.
So, who are you going to have a conversation with this week?
Cecilia Bratt has a background as a hiring manager in a fast-growing startup. Today, she works as a startup consultant and career coach. She is the founder of Conscious Careerist where she helps people find and build meaningful careers.