Making the Right Connections? Take a Fresh Look at the Pieces.

Too often we think we’ll find success if we just meet the right people. Sometimes that’s so.

"Hot Dog" limited edition serigraph by John Gaydos

But we can waste a lot of time cozying up to influencers, just to discover that they aren’t interested in doing anything for us.

Our success comes from demonstrating that we know how to connect the dots and get results!

Put the pieces together

We make “right” connections when we come up with ideas that:

  • solve a problem or settle an issue
  • develop a profitable product or service
  • build or improve an essential relationship

They are a function of you, using your insights and initiative, to put the pieces together, in ways that showcase your:

  • Understanding of  business needs
  • Ability to collaborate and/or partner with individuals or groups
  • Problem-solving capabilities and risk-taking tolerances
  • Willingness to take the lead and own outcomes
  • Ability to communicate in ways that attract support and sponsorship

The pieces only fit correctly if you understand what’s needed to make them connect. Think of a jigsaw puzzle and how, if you force pieces together that aren’t a match, you’ll end up with a distorted picture. The same is true at our jobs.

Think of the coworkers where you work who are the go-to people whenever things are out of whack. They’re successful because they take the time to identify the:

  • underlying problem, not just the surface symptoms
  • solution that will get things up and running without causing other problems later
  • strategy for a long-term resolution that minimizes cost and disruption
  • players who need to participate as collaborators and/or partners

Our career value is determined by how willing and effective we are at solving problems by connecting needs and solutions. That recognition can vault our success.

Hot doggin’ it

Last fall, our local, non-profit arts council held its annual fundraiser–an “affordable art for everyone” auction. The executive director in collaboration with one of the board members came up with idea.

They put the pieces together, creating the right connections, collaborations, and partnerships, by:

  • Attracting artists to submit work for a 50-50 sales split, over 200 pieces
  • Securing an “historic” local hot dog eatery as a sponsor and building the event’s theme around it
  • Commissioning a well-known, local painter to create an original piece called “Hot Dog” (which sold for $1,300; needless to say, most other pieces were significantly less!)
  • Attracting a strong bidder turnout and press attention

After the auction, the owners of the hot dog business suggested making a limited edition print of the original painting. Here was a chance to initiate more “right connections.”

Again the executive director and board member put new pieces together by:

  • Securing a fine art printer to create a limited edition serigraph at an affordable price
  • Making arrangements with the artist to partner on the effort
  • Identifying an art business that would mat and frame the piece for an attractive price
  • Engaging other board members and social media followers to promote and/or purchase the print

Making the right connections bonds you with everyone you engage. That’s how you build your own brand, attract followers, and expand your leverage. Each initiative builds on itself in expansive ways.

Finding intersection

Success is not linear. It’s a function of our choices and our ability to know which way to turn when we face an intersection.

The “hot dog” auction and print experience connected a non-profit organization with individual artists trying to make a go of it. It brought about the involvement of a food business, a print maker, and a frame shop along with art fanciers and a gallery owner.

The old image of the path to career success was a ladder. The idea of climbing steps in a row doesn’t work much anymore. It’s all about connecting and arranging opportunities in creative ways to get the job done. Hot dog!

Unemployment Got You Down? | Build Up Your Skills

Being unemployed is your big break. Why? Because you can finally focus all your time on yourself—your future. Most people squander that time. Please don’t let that be you. 

Stress makes people stupid. 

Think about it. In the face of the unexpected, fear, or hard criticism, we become confused, befuddled, even frantic. When we reach our stress threshold, our decision-making ability implodes. 

Not having a job, for whatever reason, can deliver high doses of stress. In knee-jerk fashion, we frantically try to find a replacement job which often looks like the old one. At the height of our stress, we forget to ask ourselves important questions: 

  • Did I really like that job? Was it a good fit for my interests?
  • Did I have the skills to be really successful at it?
  • Could I have made a career of it?
  • Did I like the industry that was home to that job?
  • Was I working with the kind of people who were good for me? 

A deep breath and serious introspection can ease the panic. 

Start with a reality check. You’re out of work now, but

  • Do you seriously think that you’ll be out work forever? The answer for most is, “No.”
  • Do you need to replace the job you had or is there something else just as good or better out there? The answer: ”Most likely”
  • Is the job you want going to fall into your lap? “No.”
  • Are you going to have to work hard to figure out your options, how to present yourself, and where the leads are? “Yes.”
  • Do you care enough about yourself to commit to finding a job that will deliver what you need? Only you know this answer. 

Start thinking. Keep thinking. Take smart actions.  

Thinking puts your mind to work discovering information, insights, opportunities, and solutions that you can act on. It needs to replace worrying, brooding, procrastinating, and nay-saying. 

Right action reduces the stress. While unemployed, you have, at least, a week’s worth of eight-hour days to develop and implement your plan for finding the right job.  

For starters, use part of each day looking for openings and opportunities through your personal and professional networks, posted positions, and career fairs.   

Then, invest time filling in the skill, knowledge, and experience gaps in your resume. 

Spend time figuring out how to stand out as a candidate. Avoid accumulating certificates, courses, or community work without clear purpose.   

Do things that will build skills essential to the jobs you want. Try these ideas on for size:

  • Identify a local non-profit looking for board members. Express interest. Volunteer or serve on committees. Say “yes” to a board seat offer. (Showcases  your leadership, talents, commitment, and energy; Builds your network) 
  • Become a blogger. Post articles on subjects related to the kind of work you’re interested in. Include evidence of research done on each subject. Invite followers and comments. Reference your blog on your resume. (Showcases subject matter knowledge, communication skills, social media savvy; Expands visibility) 
  • Offer specialized skills/services as an independent contractor. Target companies/individuals in industries where you want to work. Do some work pro bono in exchange for a testimonial. Mention this work on your resume. (Showcases entrepreneurial spirit, motivation, relationship building, skills; Adds references; May lead to an offer.) 
  • Seek out public speaking opportunities. Too scary? Enroll in Toastmasters and get over that. Speak to groups of any size.  Mention relevant topics and audiences on your job applications. (Showcases self-confidence, public presence, courage; Expands visibility) 

The right effort delivers the right job at the right time. 

Patience, a steady pace, disciplined action, and your network are your best job search assets. This work is about YOU, no one else. If you spend half your time focused on the marketplace and the other half expanding your capabilities and your reach, you’ll have a full workday every day and a great job as your reward. This is how you’ll get business fit. I’m pulling for you! 

Can you add other ideas for building skills while out of work? Are there any traps to avoid? Got a success story to share? I love those!