Monday, February 12, 2018

Build relationships, not transactions

You wouldn't send a fundraising letter without an explanation of a contribution's value to both the giver and receiver. You wouldn't address such a letter "to whom it may concern". You probably would try to connect with the person face-to-face before making a hard pitch. You probably would avoid making it sound needy, whiny, or bitter. You might even try and have a meeting before stepping back and soliciting funds if you had hopes to have an ongoing relationship vs a one-time donation.

So why (oh why!!!) do folks think it's ok to walk up to strangers at events and, after a 2 minute superficial introduction, ask for a job/purchase of services/reference?

Honestly, we take more time debating a drink selection!

If a working relationship with someone is like a marriage... and referring someone within your working relationships is like fix up plus a reflection of your own personal brand... and meeting someone for the first time is a blind date...  then why would you not treat all these potential connections and relationships with care as you both consider joining forces? Why do we so often find ourselves accepted or discarded solely by what immediate problem or need is on the table? Working life should not be run like an ER or fast food restaurant.

Life is not best served by making everything end in a transaction (sometimes yes, but not most). Build the relationship THEN work through the possible scenarios.


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Monday, February 5, 2018

Let yourself drift a little

I spent part of a snowy Sunday afternoon watching videos, texting with friends, playing laser tag with the cats and doing the usual chores to get ready for the week ahead. (usually out of salad fixings and clean under-things by Sunday)

There's not much organization or planning around such an afternoon. I generally don't feel like I made a dent in the 'to do' list. By supper, it's usually obvious I might have even forgotten lunch. I believe I had cheese and coffee today!

Yet, these are the very afternoons that cement friendships, allow the mind to chew on ideas quietly and give one a sense that the entire week is not about meetings, deadlines and outcomes. Reflection without making it a direct activity. 

One of my mentorees remarked last week how frustrated she is that she isn't doing enough. "Enough", of course, in the big general sense of life.

As Monday winds us up again, perhaps we all need a reminder that drifting a little also can create space and refresh us for our communities and needs.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Personal brand is part of your resume

My living room has often, over the last decade, been filled with the ambitious, the lost, the determined and the clueless ages 19 – 26. Some already have a Masters degree. Some are still trying out the minimum wage route. All of them feel burdened by the "need experience to get a job; need a job to get experience" conundrum.

There is one unusual path to try - it's developing and using your personal brand. Mentors help you develop it. Sponsors promote it. Only  you the brand holder can define it. You can use it to help potential employers understand your value and beliefs even if you have limited previous experience by which to prove your follow through.

At a very basic level, you can define your brand as:
1.       What 3 words do you wish folks would use to describe you in a job? 
2.       What have you done this week to demonstrate those attributes to others in any situation? 
3.       What do you have planned to do to continue developing and demonstrating these qualities?

If you're a coffee pourer and want folks to know you're "creative, intelligent & people-savvy" (for example), what can you do in your workplace (and outside of it) to showcase the best of yourself? 
·         Volunteer opportunities
·         Work committees
·         Extra assignment /offer of help to someone
·         Conversation with your manager to ask for any of the above
·         Build your network to ask other people how they've managed the transition

Just a few ideas that show how you can demonstrate ability before getting paid experience. Demonstrating the very skills for which you hope to be hired can be very powerful in getting you the paid opportunities.