Enlarging Territories:  Networking

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By Kirk McCarley

Kirk Mccarley

An Old Testament Biblical verse from 1 Chronicles 4: 9-10 contains an otherwise obscure passage, the prayer of Jabez.  In it we learn:

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.  His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’  Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying ‘Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.’  And God granted his request.”

Author Bruce Wilkinson penned a book 20 years ago based on these five sentences, and the three key words:

“Enlarge my territory”

What do these words mean to you?  Do they suggest personal acquisition?  Greater responsibility in vocation?  More resources and wealth?

The first of a year is a busy time for a Career Coach.  New Year’s resolutions for prospective clients can include seeking different employment or even altogether new careers affording greater challenge, opportunity, and compensation.

Preparing for occupational change requires an assessment of our talents and skills and identification of employment targets, to be sure.  In spite of our planning and searching, however, the reality is that likely 80% of job placements are for positions not publicly communicated.  Rather these opportunities come about as a result of contacts job seekers either know or assertively pursue.  Some call it networking.  I often call it “territory enlargement.”

One way to network is the traditional “cocktail party” approach where business cards and pleasantries are exchanged.  Another is communicating with family members, friends, and associates that you are aiming to change employment.

A better tactic involves not even directly making a contact with the friend or associate about a job, but rather scheduling a “research” meeting of short duration.  The introductory call may go like:

“I am doing some research about your industry and wondered if you might have time for a brief conversation.  I am interested in learning about the challenges and opportunities you face, how you deal with them, and what your expectations are going forward.”

Who would not be honored to make time to grant such a request?

Once the appointment is secured come to the meeting not so much equipped with a resume, but rather a professional binder for note taking.  Some questions to ask during the face-to-face:

What are some of the challenges or obstacles you see at this time and how do you think they are best overcome?
How flexible or adaptable has your company been to change?  What are some of the opportunities that can be leveraged to move your company successfully forward?

Where appropriate be prepared during the conversation to interject personal experiences you may have had that pertain to the discussion.  Share similar situations you may have faced, what the obstacles were, the actions taken, and results achieved.

At the conclusion of the meeting your binder will contain a list of other organizations and contacts you also plan to meet.  Present your list to your contact and ask, “what other names and organizations should I have on this list?”  Their name and the name of their enterprise will also be on that sheet.  It is highly likely that they will either give you an additional contact, or more, or were so impressed with your direct and professional approach that you have gotten an interview without actually going through the process.

Follow up with a thank you note for their time, knowing that you may have just forged an opportunity for yourself; at worst you have networked creatively by receiving an informal interview…and enlarged your territory.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact kirk@theseedsowercoach.com, theseedsowercoach.com, or call  314-677-8779.

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