Let me share a few basics with you. If you don’t have certain basic skills down cold, you are wasting your time pressing your suit and rewriting your resume.
The skills you need to find work at any age are real networking, prospecting, marketing yourself and setting expectations properly.
I have written several articles about finding work and have devoted Chapters 6 & 7 in Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day to this activity, but it requires certain skills that you can learn and which improve with use.
First of all, you learn what real networking is and you many hours every week prospecting for opportunities to provide services to someone. Prospecting for work is more a matter of keeping your eyes open for opportunities to use your skills to help someone out. Remember, they need to have a problem that they cannot handle easily before they will hire someone to handle it.
If you are self-employed, this is a constant activity and after the first few months it becomes as natural as breathing. I try to spend at least 8 hours a week finding new clients or developing new services to provide to existing clients.
Real networking is being interested in the other guy and finding out what he is doing and how it is going for him. Notice that I said, find out how it is going for him, not pitching your abilities to him. You must do this before asking if he needs help. He may need help badly, but it is best if he realizes it himself through a casual conversation with you.
If you have a "real job" in a big organization, you had better brush up on
these skills because you are going to need them desperately at some
time in the future. Big corporations are increasingly
unstable fluid these days.
I guarantee that if you are over 40, you need to practice these
skills every week until you feel confident that you have at least one
job waiting in the wings if/when your current employer goes belly up or
decides that you are ballast that can be dropped overboard.
Don’t spend time complaining about the unfairness of it all, just get busy and find more work. Continue reading to find out more about how you can do it.
Don’t concentrate only on "hot" prospects, networking is about
meeting people and sharing ideas and concerns, but it is definitely not
idle chatter. Whenever you talk with someone, you should be alert to
any possibility of getting work through the discussion.
If you keep networking, you will eventually get introduced to
someone who may become a major client or employer. This is where you
begin to shift gears. You need to find out a lot more about this person
before moving the conversation to a more significant level.
Any way you can manage it, you need to have some idea of what you
can do for this person or his company BEFORE you have a serious
discussion with him about working with him. This is NOT a cold sales
call. Forget that completely! This is getting to know someone well
enough to find out if he has a problem you can solve and if you want to
do business with him.
Then the fun starts. In future installments I will discuss how you might want to have others help you prospect for business.
If you look at the above, you should note that this is not an
age-dependent activity. The only requirement for success is that you
need to have skills that people need! I know someone who has
superlative skateboarding skills, but he supports his family with his
ability to manage a restaurant effectively.
This isn’t about your skill sets, this is all about your skills that people need!
Go out and do some networking today! It will be an adventure…