Some recruitment agencies may fulfil this PR function for us,it’s appropriate, but it’s worth considering whether there are people we already know through our formal and informal networks we could recruit to our ‘campaign’ as well.
What are your ripples of influence?
Imagine that you are trying to create ripples of influence where you are now to the person who will eventually offer you the job or training post you’re after. You need as many intermediaries as you can muster to help push those ripples across the pond.
Let’s look at Steve as an example:
Steve has a geography degree and several years’ experience in the tourist industry,he specializes in organizing holidays for young people. He is thinking of shifting to a career in educational psychology, as he loves working with children and teenagers, and believes he has the skills to help them learn and develop. He has gathered plenty of theoretical information about educational psychology the internet, and he knows he needs to find some voluntary work or a related post in the field to start with. He just isn’t sure how to take the first step.
But he does know Mark,uni, whose girlfriend is a social worker in a team there is a psychologist; Dacia,his Spanish class, who works for an adoption and fosteringity; Anna, his mother’s friend, who is a head-teacher in a nearby secondary school; and lie, finance manager, DJ and Steve’s best buddy his current job, who has more friends than anyone else he knows. Recommendations, sign-posting, or introductions any or of these people would be extremely valuable.
Most people to help if they can, if they are approached with openness and respect.
Is it OK to ask? Of course – if, in return for the support you receive, you’re willing to give something in return. A two-way exchange can be enriching for both parties. Your part of the bargain is to be capable of everything you’ve claimed – the whole process is based on trust and integrity – and also to be willing to support the person helping you, if they ask. Which they may not. So, another way of giving back is to help someone else who approaches you with a similar request, passing on the willingness to be helpful.
How can you recognize the people who can help you?
Malcolm Glad well, author of ‘The Tipping Point’, identified three kinds of individuals who enable social phenomena to spread and gather momentum; that ‘social phenomenon’ could be the knowledge that you are valuable, enthusiastic and available.
The Connectors: those who make friends and acquaintances easily because they love interacting with other people. They are in constant communication with others diverse walks of life and invariably know ‘someone who knows someone’, if you ask.
The Mavens: they glean and store information at every opportunity, and love to share their knowledge – facts, figures, finances, processes, the lot. They can advise you about what you might need to do to progress your ambitions and they’ll also store what they know about you and your skills in their huge memory banks. When they next meet someone they feel would benefitknowing about you, they’ll be keen to share that information with them.
The Salesmen: charismatic individuals with powerful interpersonal skills, who have a natural influence with others through their adept and persuasive use of non-verbal language and presence. The best ‘Salesmen’ have genuine authority and are trusted, because they value their relationships too highly to misuse their abilities (President Obama is a great example). If they recommend you, people will listen; some of their aura of integrity will rub off on you, so carry it well.
Think about your friends and associates in relation to these three ‘types’. Don’t discount someone because they don’t function in the precise field you’re interested in, it’s their skills you’re interested in right now. Who do you know who would be willing to tell their networks about you, share their knowledge with you or help you find out how to learn? Would they use their influence to inspire or recommend you? Can you enlist these people to support you? And, more importantly, what could you offer them in exchange?
In your friendship and professional networks, you may be fortunate enough to meet individuals who are three of the ‘types’ described above – a natural combination of communicator, maven and salesperson. If you know someone this, who works in or is connected to a field you are interested to move into, they are gold-dust. Let them know how much you would appreciate support them, and ask what you can do in return.
How Karen used the gift of her time to open a door to her new career
Karen was a PA who woke up one morning with a burning desire to work in a flower shop. Although she thought it was a mad idea, she really wanted to go for it. Because she thought people would think she was crazy, she only mentioned it to one person, Ruby, a neighbour who lived downstairs. Karen had helped set up Ruby’s computer and internet connection when Ruby first moved into her flat. Unbeknownst to Karen, Ruby told her friend about Karen’s dream; this friend turned out to have a sister who went to school with a woman who – you guessed it –worked in a rather beautiful and well-known designer flower shop in central London,
which was currently looking for front-of-house staff…
So, if it’s not precisely ‘what you know’ but ‘who you know’ that will lead to the most success with career-shifting, how can you get the most out of your social and professional networks? Simple. Contact people by phone and in person. Ask. Be willing to give more than you get. And remember: we usually are only six degrees of separation away someone who can help.