Updated 30 August 2012
I’m going to make a bold prediction. Hear me out if career progression is something you hold dear. For I believe whether you act on this article is going to have a significant impact on your career trajectory for years to come.
Grant me a paragraph to set the scene if you would.
Amongst those looking to make a career move, I see two distinct types of candidates. Amongst those looking to win business I see a similar distinction. There are those who are forced to hunt out every opportunity themselves; and when they find an opportunity they are starting from scratch in terms of persuading the employer or client about the merits of their approach.
Then there are those who appear to breeze through life. Business seems to come to them. Career opportunities likewise. They go to job interviews and sales meetings with the deal more or less sealed.
The network of advocates they’ve built up through paying it forward.
So what have these people been doing that’s so powerful? I put it to you that they’ve spent the last years networking, building friends and influencers, giving freely of their knowledge, insights and reach. In short they’ve been paying it forward. Doing little things to impress and solidify relationships with growing numbers of professionals. Winning advocates and a network of people who are inclined to want to give something back in return.
Now here’s where you need to sit up and take note. It’s my firm belief that social media is accelerating this process dramatically and creating a huge divide between those who live their lives paying it forward and those who simply look out for number one.
A couple of years from now, you will be facing professional rivals who have near-Jedi like levels of influence! Whether you’re up against them in pursuit of a career move or trying to secure business, which situation would you rather be facing: 1) a battle to find opportunities and convert them single-handedly for the next years of your career; or 2) a life where warm introductions, endorsements and favourable outcomes are the norm as these things come to those who’ve spent the last years helping others? I know which group of professionals I’d be backing to succeed.
So what do you need to be doing differently?
The funny thing is, much of this influence comes from doing a lot of little things well, day by day. When these people hear of a piece of business that’s up for grabs, they try to facilitate introductions within their network that will help both parties and land someone a piece of business. They share great content and business insight rather than hoarding it. They share with their network the great content of others and so help raise the standing of those other people too. They help people when they are looking for work (ie. when they’re in their hour of need). They publish unsolicited recommendations for those they’ve been genuinely impressed by. In short, they pay it forwards by constantly thinking about and acting on what they can do to help others.
I could point you to countless examples of people doing this well. Some of them I hazard are doing these things subconsciously, rather than as part of some master plan. That’s fine, it’s no less effective – and no less a pattern of behaviour that others can learn from and mimic.
So here’s my challenge to you:
Commit to spending the next 3 months helping others in a professional capacity. And here’s the crucial bit – with no expectation of anything in return. Each day try to do some of the following:
What I’m absolutely confident in saying is that 3 months from now you’ll have had some surprising conversations. You’ll have made some great new contacts. You’ll have won new friends and professional admirers – and in the process have built up a network of people who look out for you, want to help when they can and stand ready to endorse you when needed.
Doesn’t that sound like the position of strength you’d like to be in in your career when you’re next looking to make a career move or secure a lucrative new contract win?
If so, commit to doing these little things each day, starting from today and every day thereafter. A couple of years from now I’m quite certain you will see a transformation in your professional standing and your career prospects. Good luck.
As for me, I’m Tony Restell - the Founder of Social-Hire.com, co-Founder of Top-Consultant.com and advisor to JobsInAssetManagement.com. I’m striving to be a pay it forward person and really welcome your feedback on which aspects of this I myself am doing well or poorly! Feel free to add your comments below and to connect with me on:
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