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Career Planning

Just about every Friday for the last eight years and four months, I went to school – but no more.  I was a consultant to the Schulich school of business, where I gave 288 presentations, coached over 2100 students, and mentored 128 of them at 7am almost every week.

I interacted primarily with full and part-time MBA students (usually in their early 30’s), as well as a smattering of Executive MBA’s and undergraduate business students.

After such an extended client relationship, I thought it  might be useful to share some insights:

Always show up early:  Showing up late is evidence of a disorganized mind, disrespect to the person you’re meeting, and is a promise unkept.  While it is true that sometimes events conspire against you, lateness should be the rare exception.  When I presented a series of lectures, there were advertised to start at a specific time, at which time the door would be locked.  Lots of knocking, gesticulating, and complaints, but strangely the second lecture in the series would always be completely full ten minutes early.  Respecting the clock – showing up early – is a skill that is so easily trainable: just doing it makes it a habit.

Keep your eye on the big picture:  After waiting for weeks for an appointment with me, one student confided that they were troubled about an important issue on their resume: whether a particular headline should be bold or italics.  I responded that it was more important to ensure no spelling or grammatical errors.  And even more important to make sure that they knew what they were “built for” and that this was reflected in the resume – and their career plan.

Always take notes in meetings – and interviews:  Note taking is evidence of active listening, and it is the only way to later recall all of the details.  After 50 minutes of an intensive coaching session, a student stopped the discussion, commented that this was the most productive and informative session that he has ever had.  As I was about to say thank you, he reached into his bag, produced a pen and paper, and slid it across the table: “Could you just write all of this down for me?”  I took the paper and pen, did some writing, and slid it back to him.  I wrote “next time take notes”.

Move beyond the pond:  Many students are completely immersed within the business school: clubs, committees, events, and student government. While this is convenient (and necessary), there is an ocean beyond that provides far greater opportunity.  A case in point: whenever a company would come onto campus for an information session, there would be 50-100 students attending, plus a few corporate representatives.  All for one or two jobs.  At a professional association event, the ratio is reversed: there may be 50-100 companies present, but only one student.  And since 80% of the jobs are only accessible through networking, moving beyond the pond is even more important.

Use the resources at hand:  At every college and university, there is an entire team that can do resume critique, interview prep, and career counseling.  They also put on seminars, workshops, and bring in external speakers.  Strangely, only a small fraction of students would access these resources. Investing time on your career is often more important than spending time in it.  Why do it alone when there is a vast array of experience you can take advantage of?

Play the part of the role you’re looking for:  Too often, I would meet a student who was unshaven, wearing ratty jeans, or perhaps had one too many shirt buttons open.  Every profession has its uniform: accountants are button-down conservative, while creative directors are expected to show design “flair”.  A first impression of “student”, means a second place personal brand.  When you dress for the role you seek, others will begin treating you accordingly – giving you even more confidence for the role.

Ask great questions:  The best people ask the best questions:  it is evidence of preparation, interest, and engagement.  Dumb questions are evidence of… dumb people I would never want to hire.  Great questions get beyond the obvious, and expose relevant capabilities.  Questions that are easily answerable with Google don’t count.

This week’s action plan:  Do you know anyone looking for new role?  If so, forward this Tipsheet to them: even though they may no longer be at school, being a student is a lifelong occupation.

Question:  Do you have any other advice?  Share your thoughts at https://www.randallcraig.com/back-to-school-2.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Most people have a LinkedIn profile.  And most people understand the importance that relationships play in building a business, making a sale, or getting the job.  But most people are mystified when it comes to using Social Media (and LinkedIn in particular) pro-actively.

Of course, there are active strategies that are a play on content marketing: putting something “out there” in the hope that a person or organization will happen upon that content (or happen upon your profile), and then reach out to make contact.   Examples of this include creating a robust profile filled with keywords, periodically sending out new status updates, or contributing meaningfully within LinkedIn groups.

If you are doing these things, then you are fertilizing the soil, but not planting any seeds. To grow business, you need strategies that are even more pro-active.  Here are six of them:

1) Before you meet anyone in the real world, search for them on LinkedIn. If you have very little time, doing this will expose at least some of their background.  And when you do meet, you can ask them about common connections.  If you have more time, call the common connections first; you’ll not only strengthen that relationship, but you’ll arm yourself with invaluable intelligence for your meeting.

2) Check on who is viewing your profile.  Reach out and say hello, asking them about their interest in you.  You can offer to send some more background, or perhaps schedule a short phone conversation. Hint:  See who you know in common, and reach out to them first.

3) Groups:  After developing a reputation in a LinkedIn group as a contributor, ask another contributor if they wish to get together for a short phone meeting or a  coffee.

4) Third party introduction:  Review the connections of one person that you know well at a “target” company, and ask if they could help set up a coffee meeting with a specific individual on their connections list.  After the coffee meeting, ask that individual if you can be connected within LinkedIn.

5) Improve your 1st degree relationships. Review all of your connections; compile a list of people that you don’t know that well, and reach out to each of them for either a phone call or in-person meeting.

6) Comments:  Instead of a generic comment on someone’s post, ask directly if you can “connect” in the real world. Sometimes a simple “can we connect over the phone?”  will work wonders.

What is the common thread between each of these pro-active prospecting strategies?  Each one aims to transform an online relationship to a real world one.  Whether you are looking to close a deal or get a new job, most people will not commit without spending real time together.

This Week’s Action Plan:  If you’ve already made the investment in a Social Media profile, and you’ve made the investment in learning how Social Media works, it’s now time to get a return on this investment.  This week, leave the passive world behind, and execute at least one of these active  prospecting strategies.

Marketing insight:  The Relationship Curve suggests that a sale is not made without first moving through awareness, preference, then trial.  These prospecting strategies are all designed to move people from one stage, into another.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Social Infrastructure

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by Randall Craig January 3, 2012

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Five Social Media New Year’s Career Resolutions

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1) Resolve to become more proactive: Social media is a great resource for connecting with people, but it is the most powerful when it is used to “amplify” real-world relationships proactively.  This year, get in the habit of checking a connection’s profile before a meeting.  Get in the habit of recognizing others online for work […]

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Are you a Social Media addict?

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Critical Mass

by Randall Craig August 23, 2011

[Special Announcement:  Since 2009, I have hosted a webTV show where I interviewed the nation’s thought-leaders each week.  I am inviting you to a special “sneak peak” at the show’s new beta website.  We’re still filling in the gaps, but with over 115 episodes, guest blogs, and other features, there is quite a bit there.  […]

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The Right 10,000 Hours

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by Randall Craig May 10, 2011

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by Randall Craig January 27, 2011

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Goal Culture

by Randall Craig January 12, 2011

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by Randall Craig June 23, 2010

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Best of… Career Planning

by Randall Craig May 18, 2010

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