Last year I started working with a client whom I will call "C". C is a very successful senior level sales executive who is now in his mid 40s. Like many other people, C has reached that point in his career when he is taking stock of what he really wants to do. He is a great pharmaceutical sales guy - momentum and talent have helped him to navigate a lucrative career and to stay with the same company through a couple of mergers. C has come to the conclusion that pharmaceutical sales isn't what it used to be. Constant reorganizations make it hard to make as much money and generally create frustration and aggravation for some of the salespeople.
I helped C with his resume and I put him in touch with superstar executive coach, Brooke Vuckovic. Brooke has a PhD from the University of Chicago and is a professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She works with top executives to help them to figure out the answer to the question, "What's next in my career?" C has decided that it might be time to explore a job with a start-up if he can find the right opportunity. So, he is in the process of researching companies to try to find an opportunity that he is excited about.
C called the other day and asked me to help him update his resume in advance of attending a big industry conference. He heard about a couple of trailblazing entrepreneurs who have a unique product that he is uniquely qualified to sell because of his particular industry knowledge and contacts. So, in addition to resume updates, we talked a lot about how to approach the people he wanted to meet and we did some online research so that C would be prepared for his meeting.
Then C headed off to the conference. The day after the conference I got an email from C to call him right away...that he had big news. When I called I half expected him to tell me that the entrepreneurs he was meeting had offered him a job on the spot. He is a super talented guy so it wouldn't have surprised me if that had happened. But, that is not what C wanted to say.
C told me that after having spent nearly 20 years in pharmaceutical sales he had never gone to a conference and made as many contacts as he did that day. He said he had great conversations with industry leaders and got about 30 business cards from folks he planned to follow up with. His point was that when he opened himself up to working with a professional coach and a resume writer he was stepping out of his comfort zone but that by taking that step he opened more doors for himself than he could ever have imagined.
There is a saying that if you keep doing what you have always done you will get the same results that you have always gotten. The opposite is also true: if you do something different than what you have done before you will probably get different results. In the past, C took a more passive approach to his career which was pretty easy since his skills got him promoted regularly. Now, he is aggressively pursuing options that he is choosing for himself and he can't believe the results he has gotten so far.
I am sure as a salesman, C did a lot of networking with industry contacts in order to sell products. But networking for a job requires a somewhat different focus in that you are seeking out an opportunity for yourself rather than for a product or for your company. Walk up to someone and say "Hello" and see what happens from there. So simple, so easy, yet it can seem so difficult when you are at a conference but as C found out the rewards of doing so are many.
Step out of your comfort zone and see what happens...you may just land the opportunity of your dreams.