Last week I wrote about the importance of follow-up and feedback for success in your business or job search. The article, Do These * 2 * Things and Get Amazing Results in Your Business OR Job Search, really was about how to have fruitful conversations and build valuable connections. This week, my good friend and long-time business writing client, David Mensah, shares his wisdom on a very related topic: how to create a stream of job and work offers through the art of talking to people.
Guest post by David Mensah
Imagine this experience: You’re in the middle of a conversation with a friend, colleague or new acquaintance, when that person suddenly interrupts the flow of the conversation to offer you some form of employment!
For most of my life, I have had that experience on a regular basis, and I have ultimately built a career as a leadership trainer and executive coach as a result. So when I started to expand my consulting practice to include career coaching, I wanted to see whether I could train people to do what I have done successfully in my own professional life: generate employment opportunities consistently, both in official interviews and everyday conversations, whether or not they are looking for a job.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for creating “the never-ending job offer”:
Choose a career that sparks your passion, and let that passion show! Your excitement is contagious.
I can always tell when others are passionate about their careers. Genuine excitement is interesting and contagious, while feigned excitement is forced and boring. Discover your true calling, even if it doesn’t make sense or scares you (are you an accountant who always wanted to be a dancer?) Your career is as personal as it gets and it’s worth finding out—and sharing—what lights you up.
BE INTERESTED IN OTHERS:
When people are authentically curious about me, I feel lucky and safe and I want to know more about that person in return. That’s the type of interest you want to create in others. When talking about your life, make sure to make time to explore the lives of those around you. You might ask questions about people’s background, work successes and challenges, or families. Explore their values and what’s important to them. Train yourself to find something interesting about everyone, including friends, networking contacts, and yes, even interviewers!
Keep asking questions until you find an area where the other person is energized, and focus there. You might be surprised at the benefits that come back to you.
IN AN INTERVIEW, ASK QUESTIONS:
Come prepared to every job or informational interview with questions you want to ask. And don’t stop there. Frankly, if you are not interested enough in the middle of an interview to have a few spontaneous questions, you are probably not interested in the job or the company. Questions emerge from a natural desire to know more—to delve deeply into things that matter to you. When you ask people questions, they learn a lot about how you think and feel about them, their company, and, if applicable, the available position. Your questions reveal something about you at the same time as you learn about someone or something else.
People hire people they feel good about and this feeling arises from a sense of connection. To create affinity with people where it might not exist automatically, consider telling stories about yourself emphasizing your humanity. I have been known to talk about my most recent business failure or how my ego gets in the way of my dreams. Stories about our failures and flaws allow others to connect deeply with us and push people quickly past the surface differences that keep us separate.
While connecting with others comes easily to some, it can be challenging to some people. Do your personal growth work so that you can easily connect to the new people in your life without internal stories about you or them getting in the way.
SPEAK ABOUT YOURSELF USING THEIR LANGUAGE:
As any conversation progresses, I learn more and more about the person I am speaking with. Once you know enough about someone, it is much easier to tell them about yourself, because now you can reference the parts of their life that help them understand yours. When I am talking with someone who values their family over everything, it is natural for me to use my love and appreciation for my puppy to describe how relationships motivate my professional successes and failures. When I talk to people who care primarily about making a difference for others, I describe my interest in coaching as a way to teach skills that they can pass on to everyone they touch.
The more you truly listen to someone, the more you can use the language they use and speak to their values. You will make deep connections with people who feel seen and understood by you, and who will want to find ways to spend more time in your presence—perhaps by offering you a job.
When my clients embrace these practices, not just in interviews but in every interaction with others, they start generating job opportunities. Getting excited about your own career and cultivating an authentic interest in others results in others’ sitting up and taking notice. Your never-ending job opportunity will happen one conversation at a time.