This is a Football…

 The story is now legend of Vince Lombardi’s first practice session after his team suffered a significant loss. Players and coaches were wondering what area of their team would become the focus of the practice. Would it be the defense, the offense, running, passing or kicking? No, Lombardi said they were going to focus on the basics. He held a ball in his hand and said “gentlemen, this is a football”.

Sometimes we need to think about the basics that drive the circumstances surrounding us. It is often too easy to tinker with one particular aspect rather than getting back to basics. I believe that avoiding the basics is likely a habit we develop so that we can ignore the real cause and effect. While the effect is the outcome we now question, the cause is more difficult to find.

The good news is that we can get back to basics simply by taking a pause. Stop the frenzy of the day and reflect on how we got here. No need to over-analyze, but do peel back the layers of detail that might otherwise cloud our thinking. Get down to basics.

Is it a relationship issue? Could it be a problem with a perception or value judgment? Am I responsible? All tough questions; yet ones we must consider so that we can overcome the circumstance that has happened.

Power Networking Ideas

This month at JMS we are going to be focusing on networking and relationship building. Feedback I routinely receive says that most people struggle with the basics of getting out and doing effective networking.

During November, we are going to:

  • Hear from several great speakers about their tried and proven methods of building a better networking experience.
  • Look at effective tactics for handling various individual or group situations.
  • Try to reduce the “oh my gosh” factor.
  • Help you be more comfortable with networking.
  • Beef up the ways to identify better networking targets.

In preparation for this, I want to clarify some information about the classic “elevator pitch”. If you have been at JMS for a while, you have heard me say I hate the 10-30 second “elevator pitch”. I have been campaigning all over my LinkedIn network recently to both spread this word and entertain feedback.

Here’s the result.

  1. Most respondents agree totally with my claim that the “pitch” needs to be killed, especially when speaking one-on-one. I’ve received an overwhelming consensus that – “ding dong, the pitch is dead!”.
  2. However, there is room to consider what you will say when asked to stand in front of the group and say SOMETHING. Here is where a great two line statement comes in with a BANG! We’ve been talking about personal branding. If you can say your value proposition in two sentences, you will dazzle any small group.

So, all of that said, here is a revision to the JMS “policy” on elevator pitches.

  1. When engaged in person with another networking person, i.e. one-on-one (or OK, two-on-one), try to build rapport with simple dialogue. Ask questions. Let the spotlight land on the other person(s). Just offer small bits of your story; enough to prompt further dialogue. Let them ask you questions. The goal is to make a connection; relate to the person. Offer help and ideas. Demonstrate your worth with content of discussion, not boilerplate junk.
  2. Work to prepare a solid two sentence message that speaks of the solution you will bring, not the case history of the road you have travelled. Leave the listeners wanting to know more. Be memorable, but be brief and to the point.

Finding True North

Ask a room full of people to close their eyes and point North. When everyone opens their eyes, fingers are pointing all over the place. (Try this some time; it’s a great ice breaker).

The message is that “north”, while being geographically available for specific identification and location using the right equipment, can conjure various meanings depending on one’s perception. 

During life changing moments our perception of our own true north can be equally confusing. For people who find themselves in career transition, I coach and teach the concept of resetting your true north. Perhaps re-set is not the perfect term, but what I mean is that you should get back in touch with that center of your being. Revisit the core values, goals, and beliefs you once held dear. Allow time to rekindle a fire that might have burned low or even worse, burned out. 

When you find that true north again, any decisions you make about the next chapter of your life will have far more meaning and purpose.

Are you pregnant?

When you hear the question “are you pregnant?”, what comes to mind? The key word might be expectation. I recently shared this topic with my group at JMS. The concept and question is one I credit to Tony Evans. Getting ‘pregnant’ creates a certain kind of expectation. What will it be? How is my life going to change? Etc. etc.

For those in job transition, there is a kind of pregnancy happening. Male or female does not matter. You cannot help but start to wonder about the expectation of what is to come. People need to grab a firm vision of this next chapter of life. The best approach is to establish a good, solid vision of the outcome you hope to achieve. Instead of letting events and circumstances swirl around you, take the time to do a little vision mapping. Create a mental picture of the outcome you want. Then start performing your work.

Professional athletes do this as part of a regular regimen. Why shouldn’t you? Oh, by the way…congratulations on getting pregnant!

More On Sales Minded Job Search

Yesterday we talked about creating a Value Proposition. Today, let’s break that down a little more.

First we need to zero in on your core purpose; “here’s what I am about”. Can you explain that in about 3 to 10 seconds? This is not a “pitch”. This is a direct communication of who and what you are. Can a 10 year old child grab it and tell it to a friend? I met a life coach recently who had a neighbor’s child come up and ask if she still “did that thing to help people”? The child was interested because an extended family member was in need and could use some of that help. The kid got it. Plus, my life coach friend had developed the ability to explain her core purpose in a way so simple and direct that a child could retain it and use it. WOW, that’s communicating.

These statements of core purpose do not have to be filled with bold, brazen technical jargon. Instead they should be beautifully simple but specific statements of what makes you special. But we also need to watch out for generic brands like “I solve problems” or “I make IT better”. So? If I am a hiring manager I think to myself, “that’s what the last guy said”.

Tom Hanks was once quoted as saying his biggest lesson in acting came from Jackie Gleason who taught him simple is better. He did not need to over-act a scene. We all know how well that has worked for Hanks.

It can work here too. Focus on the core purpose you can serve, and then boil it down into a few key words. Try it on a 10 year old and see if it reads back properly. Simple is better.

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”.