Last month I recommended using holiday parties and family gatherings as a time to light the fires for networking. Now is the time to follow up. Make a list of the people you’ve met over the past few weeks who could help you advance in your career or find a new job. Set up a time to meet them for lunch or coffee.
At the meeting, don’t make it all about you. First let your network contacts know that you appreciate their friendship and support. Then let them know what your current goal is and ask for their advice: “Based on your knowledge of my career, what do you think I should do?” Listen to what they say and take notes. Ask follow up questions on any point that is not clear or needs more information. If a contact says you should look at a certain company, find out why she thinks that company is right for you. Ask if she knows anyone at that company. If she does, ask if she will make an introduction or if you can use her name in a cover letter. Most importantly, never let a networking meeting end without finding out how your contacts are doing and if there is any way you can help them.
Networking is always a two way street. Look for ways to help others, and they will remember you and want to return favors. Start your New Year on the right foot – Get your network humming.
I learned over the weekend that one of my clients has gotten a high profile job. She’s very talented and has strong experience. However, her last few jobs were a bit off the fast track. So how did she grab the brass ring? She had the courage to reach for it. Too often, I hear people give articulate, passionate reasons about why they cannot move forward in their careers. In these cases, the only winner is fear. It takes courage to climb to the career ladder’s top rungs. Congratulations, R.! May many more successes come your way.
One of my clients is pursuing a major promotion in his company. He told me that one of the forces motivating him was advice he had gotten from a senior manager: “Don’t limit yourself.”
What does this advice mean? It means that a real professional always does more than a job requires. She stays late and motivates others by her example. It also requires ambition and the ability to take professional risks. A person can apply for a promotion and not get it. Or she could get the position and not be able to handle the responsibility. However, if she doesn’t take the chance, she’ll never know how high she can reach. In the words of my client’s mentor, she will be limiting herself.
Don’t limit yourself. Take on extra responsibilities, and, when the time comes, look to climb the ladder. If your current employer won’t give you a change to move up, that’s a good reason to look for a new job.
Does your employer offer training that will let you improve your professional skills? If so, find a way to take advantage of this resource. One of my clients is looking to change jobs. However, while he’s looking for a new employer, he’s also using an online resource to improve his computer skills.
There is one note of caution. If you’re enrolled in a formal degree or certification program, be sure you know the employer’s requirements. Most employers require that you work for a company so long while/after completing degrees or you may be responsible for repaying tuition costs.
Training can lead you to a promotion or a new job. Take advantage of it whenever possible.
Nothing happens by itself.
If you are currently looking for a job, this is a good time to set up a plan and start executing it on January 4, 2009. Be sure that you are following all ways of finding work: Networking, answering ads for open positions, posting resumes, attending job fairs, and taking temporary positions.* Think of a job search as a campaign. It does not end until you have a new job.
If you are currently employed, what’s your next move? If a promotion is possible in your current company, what positions are open and how do you apply for them? If you are blocked at your current employer, what other companies need your skills and will give you the opportunity you are looking for? Take a few days to consider these questions. Then act. Even if you decide not to pursue a new position, know what is available and what you need to do to push forward.
Don’t forget about layoffs. Be prepared. Everyone who is currently employed needs to take the time to update his or her resume. Updating is one of those tasks that is easy to “do tomorrow.” Don’t wait. Update your resume before January 1.
The end of the year is also a good time to touch base with your references and network. Holidays are a good excuse to call people and catch up with them. Find out how (and what) they are doing. Update them on your professional success. Finally, ask if there is any way you can help them. End the call by wishing your supporters a happy New Year.
Career management requires focus and activity. Know what you need to do, set priorities, and take action. Waiting doesn’t win the game. Get busy!
* CNN reported today that 50,000 temp jobs were added last month.