“I’m Always Willing to Have a Conversation”
Have you ever turned your nose up at an opportunity? I bet you have. And I bet there are some people who, as they’re reading this, are thinking, “no, I haven’t”; my comment to you is that you probably weren’t aware enough to realize that someone was offering you an opportunity.
In February 2011, I achieved a goal. In February 2010 I started my own business with 3 goals in mind before going back to the “working world”: 1) I wanted to work 40 hours / week or less 2) I wanted to prove to myself I could run my own business 3) I wanted to bring in “X” dollars in revenue. It took me exactly one year and I achieved all three. So now what?
Now I go back to the world I love so much; the world of working with others. Being an extravert, the past year has been incredibly difficult for me; consulting and being “with myself” from 9 AM – 6 PM everyday. But I did it. And I’m better for it. So, how does one get back into the work world? Most people are probably thinking, “duh – apply for jobs”. But no – that’s not my schtick. I know the stats. I know that 92% of jobs are found via connections, not uploading a resume. So, I embraced the stats and started calling around, making conversations.
And it’s been fun – it really has. I realized not only how many connections I had made – but more importantly, the depth of those connections; I didn’t network – I was a relationship builder. And the response was overwhelming. That said, there were certain opportunities that were thrown my way that I impulsively chose not to look at. I didn’t have any reason except that I “thought the job sounded too junior” or I “didn’t think I believed in what the company did”. Stupid.
So I’m on the phone yesterday with Linda – this rockstar Marketer that I “connected with” to work for over the year; while working together, I was impressed…and I’m rarely impressed – so I basically bothered her into a relationship. So we’re discussing jobs on the phone and I mentioned a couple of companies that had reached out to me and asked her opinion on if I should speak with them…I had already made up my mind NOT to speak with them, but I thought – eh, let me see what she would do. And her response, the same response I’ve heard multiple times from her was,
It’s always worth having a conversation.
So I started thinking back to other conversations we’d had and one thing that stuck out whenever I asked if she wanted to be connected with someone – she said, “I’m always willing to have a conversation”.
So I spent the rest of the day thinking about all of the conversations I had turned down and what a bad decision that had been. And I don’t mean just “career” opportunity conversations, but conversations with people in general. How many ideas, thoughts, and great people had I missed out on because I was NOT “willing to have a conversation”? My list was not too long, but it wasn’t too short either.
And then I went back to my first three jobs as well as all of my consulting work; I had never applied for anything – they had all been started with random conversations. My first job, at Kaplan, I was referred there by a high school friend I saw out at a bar. Within Kaplan, I went over to Education Connection based on a conversation about television commercials, and my last role, at HEH, I had been having a conversation with a friend who was in TX and bam – jobs for me and my husband. I could have easily ignored the friend from high school or walked away from the other conversations – but I didn’t.
So, while many things are left to chance – and I firmly believe that everything is purposeful – when you get asked to speak with someone; or maybe not even asked, but the opportunity presents itself – always be willing to have a conversation. Don’t snub your nose at something. You never know where it will lead.