It is no longer enough to have the college degree, go to the big school, or have the first class contacts to make your career a success. Although you’ll still gain a small edge with these traits, things are different now. Good jobs are still out there but great jobs are difficult to find since more people are staying put until the global job market improves.
But you’re aiming for the stars and that’s good. Companies aren’t hiring or moving people up in to higher paying positions as much these days but you’re determined to not let that deter you. The reality is that you haven’t moved any closer to your career goals in quite a long while.
The problem may be your lack of planning. All of us have dreams but dreams tend to stay unrefined. What you need is a plan. How will you meet the right people? How will you get the sale that everybody has tried to get and failed? Make a plan and follow it and you may see your career take off but what should you include in your plan?
Relationships and Networking
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it before, right? You have to meet people, nobody finds success alone, blah, blah, blah. You may have heard it but are you doing it? Ask yourself this: When was the last time you made a meaningful business contact? When was the last time you had lunch with a colleague or potential client? People don’t buy your product or service. They buy you. If you’re looking for a promotion, the work you do is important but there’s a reason that the likeable guy with less skill got the promotion over you. Get to it. Get your professional networking in to high gear and form new relationships.
Provide Comfort by Laying Out the Plan
Trying to win a sale or contract? After you took some time to get to know the perspective buyer, take control of the meeting and use your expertise to guide the process. Let them know what’s going to happen. Start with, “Here’s how the process is going to go:” People find comfort in knowing where the end is and you come across as confident and trustworthy because you’re being transparent with your intentions.
Get the Money Out of the Way
This is totally opposite of conventional wisdom but you’ll never go back if you implement it. Talk about money first. Don’t wait until the very end when you’ve invested hours of valuable time in to the process. Wasting a lot of time on somebody who doesn’t have the resources is time you took away from a client who does. It also makes the client feel more at ease.
Not a sales person? The same rule applies. Any talk about dollars and cents should come early in the negotiation process. (Unless it’s your first interview with a perspective employer)
If you Lose…
Don’t give up. Keep in touch with these people. People like to be valued as individuals instead of sales contacts. Once the sale falls through and they know that you’re taking an interest in them for reasons other than making a sale today, their guard will go down. You might make a new friend, professional contact, or eventually a sale because of that new relationship.
People who get ahead in their careers first know how to form relationships. From there, they have a process in place to leverage those relationships in to sales or other actions that allow their career or business move forward. Prospecting should be an integral part of each work day to make your career a success.