Friday, November 26, 2010
Your Career and You: "The ROI of a Handshake"
I've been reading Charlene Li's excellent book "Open Leadership" this weekend, and one line sticks in my mind: "What's the ROI ["return on investment" for those folks who haven't delved into business-speak] of a handshake?"
She leads into this with another spot-on observation: "Inevitably, we base many of our decisions on just the thinnest sliver of information and evidence or, even more likely, our gut feeling."
Wow! Such simple statements that say so much about ways in which business decisions are made.
How does this apply to your situation as you either prepare to enter the workforce after college or embark on a search for a new position that offers greater opportunities than the one you currently hold?
Simple. The decisions that you make are "investments" in your future. You conduct your market research, and you devise a plan of action. That plan includes such things as networking, job analysis, and the plain ol' gruntwork of meetings and follow-up.
The key in all this is to undertake those activities that you feel will deliver the best results...your "return on investment."
As I tell my students and advisees (probably more times than they really want) at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations concentration within our Communication major, sometimes it just boils down to a "gut feeling."
And sometimes you just take chances...something I've talked about numerous times.
The bottom line for you as the job-seeker is to take actions that, in your opinion, will result in something positive happening...a referral to a job possibility...a job offer...a new busines contact.
I took a chance like this years ago (seems like yesterday to me, but the calendar now says 20 years ago!) with a move from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Didn't know a single soul in the entire Aloha State. Had no clue what lay in store. But the feedback and encouragement I got from folks with whom I had been in contact gave me the feeling that something good would come of this.
Reader's Digest version of the outcome? Best job I've ever had as a public relations professional.
Landing this job, though, required my reaching way beyond the limits of my comfort zone. As odd as this may sound, I'm a card-carrying introvert, and I don't do well in crowds where I don't know at least 90% of the people.
But I also knew that my "gut" was telling me this was a worthwhile effort...that something good would come of my reaching out to total strangers and asking for help. So I put myself out there, met a bazillion people, made a gazillion new friends, shook a boatload of hands, and succeeded...big time.
As you start gathering your information and preparing for your own journey, do so with this in mind: "What is the possible outcome of this effort? What might I expect?"
If you answer these questions up front, you will be better prepared to act on unplanned opportunities. You will have a better idea of where the conversation might lead you.
You will know the potential ROI of that handshake.
"Know the other, know yourself,
And the victory will not be at risk;
Know the ground, know the natural conditions,
And the victory can be total."
Sun-Tzu, "The Art of Warfare: The Terrain" [6th Century B.C.]