May Musings

Dear blog trackers, sorry for no new content recently. I’ve been incredibly busy with developing some new guides and seminar topic ideas. But that aside, how you been?

How is your relationship development going? Have you made any new, meaningful contacts since we last spoke? NO? Shame on you. I’d say I’ve made at least 5. I am not trying to brag. Rather I am trying to build the case for getting busy with getting out there.

The old schoolyard adage about “if you want a friend, be a friend” is so true. Yesterday I was speaking with one of my newest contacts who turns out to be part psychologist (no, that’s not like being a little Irish, which I am). The point is, she was commenting on one of the fastest cures for mild depression is getting out and giving to others rather than taking for yourself. Per my new friend, when we focus on the giving of ourselves to others, we get further away from the burdens that may be overwhelming us right now.

Maybe this isn’t rocket surgery, but it is surely a dose of a great idea that can make a big difference.

More later on the big three life questions 1) Who am I? 2) Why am I here? and 3) Where am I going?

Quality Relationships

The age old wisdom we heard when we were kids and the same stuff we tell our kids ‘if you want a friend, be a friend’ is all the more compelling today. Why? The conditions of the current job market and the business climate that has impacted those jobs both cry out for a change. I counsel people every day to consider their efforts at building a personal network. Employment experts tell us that networking is THE way to get your next job. So, how does someone go about building that network.

It takes RELATIONSHIP. People help people they know and trust. Therefore, it is incumbent on each of us to carefully, yet boldly go forward and try to become the connection that someone is interested and willing to have in their circle of influence.

“If you need a contact, be a contact”.

Sharpening the Saw

I like Steven Covey’s 7th habit, sharpening the saw. At first I had trouble getting the word picture, but that was long ago. Since then I have become a voracious reader. I find this expands the mind and keeps the age-creep from setting in. Anyway, some of my most recent main courses have been Jeffrey Gitomer’s”Little Black Book” (about connecting your network) and Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone”.

The reason these are in the spotlight for me is that I have been talking to my JMS group about their efforts to better connect with the people who can influence their job search success. I found it very interesting that Ferrazzi actually stated he never goes to a dedicated “networking” event. Why?  Because these events get filled with job seekers and people of no influence. Can someone say “DUH?”

So, where does that leave us? Well, the common thread between these two writers suggests we need to focus on target contacting versus large group.

More on that soon.

30-Second Info-Bomb

Job seekers usually get introduced to the famous “30-second commercial”. The logic is that you need a solid, to-the-point intro pitch in the event you meet someone of importance with whom you would like to connect. Further we are told that people only have 10 to 20 seconds to make a good first impression. So these worlds collide.

I have some personal issues with the canned 30-second info-bomb. First, look at the math above. You plan on thirty seconds, but first impressions get made BEFORE that time is up. OOOOPS.

Next, I’ve watched too many well-meaning job seekers get so hung up on the delivery of the perfectly choreographed and staged 30 second spiel that it becomes almost robotic. Picture any B-movie robot character with arms flaying shouting “Hi my name is Zeldorb, I am a model X93B cyborg from Romulak. I am capable of mass destruction at 300 yards with no collateral damage. etc, etc”

People don’t like this at all. Rather, we need to think in terms of making a simple emotional connection when we first introduce ourselves. And I am not talking about the weather or the color of that cool car in the parking lot. I am talking about genuine connection with the listener.  “Hi, my name is Doug. How do you like this event so far? What have you seen here that has impressed you?”

Ask them more about themselves to get the connection started. But of course, don’t pry or probe. Merely open a few doors.

Sales Minded job Search – Revisited

Last week while speaking at a conference, one attendee took me to task when I talked about having a sales minded approach to your job search and your interview. Where the discussion went then is not important right now, but I confess it made me think a bit. OK…time’s up. No, I am not changing my opinion. Yet the point does deserve some clarification.

When I say “sales minded” I am not talking about snake oil or used cars on corner lots. I am talking about high trust relationship selling where the presenter (the job seeker) leads the buyer (the hiring manager) into a “buy” decision. People don’t like being sold to, but they LOVE buying. 

This comes from making a solid connection with rapport, establishing a good understanding of the buyer’s need and your solution/value proposition. Then, as any good high dollar sales pro can do, LISTEN more for the rest of the need. Listen twice as hard  as you speak; easy to do since we are equipped with two ears and one mouth.


Long week, but great week. I had the good fortune of meeting with members of the PMI Houston organization during their annual conference at the GRB in Houston. This was a super group of folks. I met people from all walks of the certified project management world.

After three very intense days of workshops, panels, groups, and breakouts, it seems the attendees went home with renewed energy.

Topics of my two days of speaking centered on networking and interviewing skills; lots of debate and reaction to the key topics (this is a good thing). I often feel it is difficult to cover so much ground in so little time as is afforded by these seminar-type formats. Nonetheless we soldiered on! I hope folks got the key points:

  1. Networking requires giving first by getting involved.
  2. Interviewing needs to be a sales oriented transaction, but it should be a high trust sales effort, not a used car approach.

BTW, goodbye to April. We shall miss you until next year.

Personal Networking

Last thought for today (after day-long conference venue)…. let’s try turning all new contacts into personal networking moments.

  • Strive to add value
  • Build high trust in the relationship
  • Reciprocate
  • Guard your credibility with established contacts
  • ALWAYS look for new opportunities in each dialogue, contact, and meeting
  • Give, give, give

Blast the Box

Ok, nowadays ‘thinking outside the box’ is cliche. We’ve heard it so much we have either forgotten the idea or written it off. The problem is that psychologists tell us we all have these personal paradigms that drive our reation and interaction with culture and society. The older we get, the more “Set in our ways” we become. This is the perfect example of operating from within a very narrow box.

I recently challenged my group of job seekers to begin the discipline of thinking truly outside your box. Here’s what we mean.

As you meet a new person, strive to understand their “box” first. Forget your bad ideas and limited scope. Hear them genuinely and seek first to understand (ala Steven Covey). You just cannot build a high trust relationship without it. This fits for hiring managers, sales leads, new friends, and other personal relationships.

Give yourself a test. Try this for just one full week. See the amazing things that can happen. Post back here and let me know what you find.

First 100 Days

We’re on the eve of Mr. Obama’s first 100 days in office. Obviously, many things have transpired. Some great, some just Ok, other things leaving something to be desired. Gee….sounds sort of like DC as usual. We’re we really expecting more?

Don’t get me wrong; I am still a fan because he IS our President. I am totally behind the Office and I still have respect for the man, his family, and his approach to the duties. No, I never once thought he alone could fix it all. No one ever has apart from maybe Lincoln. His problems were a little steeper too.

But it does make me think of our own need to establish 100 day plans when things in our own life change. Take a new job for instance. Every new employee should establish a 100 day plan to engage their new employer and the new company team. Without it, you are certain to fail (or at least subject yourself to early elimination). With it, you increase your odds of success tremendously.

Make a plan. Work the plan. You are hired on skills and fired on behavior.

New Day, New Week

Monday is off to a great start. No, really it is. This should be a big week in the community here.

Recently, I have been sharing ideas with a few very close colleagues. Of course there is the daily news about the markets, unemployment, recession/depression, etc. But it is interesting to me that among the circle of people that I know who can make a difference, the prevailing theme has to do with helping others with deeper meaning. Topics discussed have included “servant leadership”, personal responsibility, value creation, communication, and building trust.

Don’t you find it interesting that in very troubled times, there are those who begin to focus on the core values that we each, as fellow members of the human race, should embrace and center upon. Frankly, I agree.

With so many key decisions to be made about jobs and financial security, it is vitally important to center on the core values like taking personal responsibility for your own attitude, learning how to develop trust based relationships, and growing a circle of close alliances to help weather the storm.