Connecting to People for Career Success

October 31, 2016

by Ravi Raman

Recently I was in Seattle to visit clients and friends. Over the course of a few days, I made it to nine different spots throughout the city. I rented a car but found Uber and walking to be a far more efficient way to get around.

What I enjoy about cities is the fact that people are everywhere and if you’re open and curious enough you can end up meeting folks who are not only interesting but also people who might lead to business or career opportunities down the road.

I’ll share three examples to demonstrate this from my trip, all of which were serendipitous.

Example #1

I was eating lunch at a park table, and an elderly gentleman came over and asked if the seat next to me was available. He had a seat, and we both focused on eating our sandwiches. After a few minutes, I decided to strike up a conversation. I expected a few pleasantries but nothing more.

It turned out he’s a retired gentleman who used to work at one of the leading hardware technology companies in California – a long time ago. He since moved to Seattle. We had a great conversation, and as I shared what I do as an Executive and Career Coach he was fascinated with it, and also curious about what it’s like to run a virtual business where clients are spread all over the globe.

We had a great conversation, and it’s clear that next time I’m in Seattle, I’ll definitely meet him for coffee. Who knows where that might lead!

Example #2

I was taking a Uber using their new “pool” future. This feature allows you to take an Uber that will pick up additional passengers along the way. While I was in route to my destination, we swung by an office building where two young professionals hopped in the car. Turns out they work for a local tech company that’s growing super fast.

After explaining what I do for work (and how many of my clients are looking for new jobs) they expressed interest and immediately started inquiring about people I might know that would be a good fit for their fast-growing team.

One of the fellows was so interested, he jumped out of the car at my stop (instead of going to his intended stop a few blocks away) and gave me a quick pitch on his organization and the kind of people they are looking for. I also got invited to grab a beer with them next time I am in town! Not only was it interesting to talk to them, but this might also provide a great new business opportunity down the road (and provide a potential job opportunity for my clients)!

Example #3

I was walking through the city when I ran into an old friend who I had not seen in about 10 years. We used to work together but lost touch. While we didn’t have time to talk in-depth, it was nice to see her, and next time I’m in Seattle I will definitely reach out to connect again.

This was a random occurrence, and if I were stuck staring at my phone or engrossed in listening to a podcast, I wouldn’t have noticed her.

Standing Out From The Crowd

I’m sharing these stories because one of the most common challenges people face when looking for a job is standing out from the crowd. How can their applications be seen? How can they find a job that they know it’s going to be not only interesting work but also a cultural fit?

The truth about finding a job is the best jobs come from people you know people and trust. These are individuals who are willing to take a bet that you have what it takes to help their company but also have the type of mindset and behaviors that will make you a good cultural fit

What this means is that if you’re trying to find a job, you shouldn’t just focus on applying online.

Instead, concentrate on building up a network of people who you’re connected to. Ideally, you would create this network before you need it and in search of a job. Then, you’ll start noticing that jobs will be coming to you instead of the other way around. You’ll also notice that when it comes time to find a job, the transitions will be seamless and the moves you make will be a better long-term fit for what you’re looking for.

Be Open. Be Curious

If you’re like me, you’re probably not the type of person that enjoys networking. If that’s the case for you, I recommend that you approach these networking type conversations as a chance to make connections to people as you move about the world.

Be open and curious. Say hello to the people who sit next to you on the bus or are while waiting in line at the coffee shop.

Be interested in what other people are doing. These small conversations can open you up to new people and ideas. Who knows, it might even lead to a job or business opportunity down the road!

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