“Get on the phone,” said my coach.
So I sent out a bunch of emails to my friends, family, and network of entrepreneurs asking for help.
I felt all proud of myself. I did my homework! Right?
Whether you’re changing careers or building a business from the ground up, sending emails and LinkedIn messages will not make a dent in your efforts.
In today’s digital world, we need more than this to stand out of from the crowd and connect. (Note: I’m not saying you should forget LinkedIn or email. But there needs to be more, and nothing beats a one-on-one conversation.)
If you’re in the midst of a career change but feeling completely frustrated at your lack of progress, this article is for you.
Here’s are 3 steps to help you change careers successfully.
Make a list of people you’re going to call
Yes, you have to pick up the phone and call people.
I personally have had a lot of resistance toward “the phone.”
Do people actually use the phone anymore? For example, your BFF is going through some life crisis and what does she do? She sends you a novel via text. And you respond…with a novel via text.
We spend hours texting and emailing and Facebook messeneger-ing. It’s easier in so many ways to communicate this way.
Hence why to stand out from the crowd you need to pick up the phone and have an actual conversation.
If you don’t know where to start, make a list of all the people in your network – family, close friends, not-so-close friends, people who you’d like to be more connected to, people who inspire you professionally.
How many people are on your list?
Make the call
The first call is the worst. It’s that transition moment from doing what’s comfortable to doing something new. You’re now putting yourself out there in a new way.
To make this easier, identify the first five people on your list who are closest to you. You know they won’t judge you or think you’re weird or desperate for reaching out.
Start with them.
And as you have these conversations, make sure you have an ask for them: How can they help you? Are you trying to break into a big tech company, but don’t know where to start? Are you looking to transition to the startup world?
Be clear about your ask, and if you can, leave the call with clear next steps (e.g. your friend will connect you with another friend).
(Note: If you’re looking at your list and thinking your network is not fully aligned with what you want to do, don’t despair. Remember we’re more connected than ever today. Ask each person you speak with to recommend at least one person who can help you address a knowledge gap. Eventually you’ll start to build the network you need to make progress.)
After you’ve made your five safe calls, move on to the next five, which should feel slightly scarier than the first.
How does it feel?
Keep track of your progress and review your process
After each phone call, take time to reflect. What went well on that call? Did you share a clear ask and also make an authentic connection with the person on the other line? If you received a lead for a potential job you’re super excited about, do you know why?
If the call didn’t go so well, why? Did it feel awkward for you? What can you do next to get closer to your goal of making a career change.
Get clear on this as well, so you know what to improve.
It’s important to spend time reflecting.
Essentially networking is about selling yourself and your mission – letting the person on the other side know that you have something valuable to offer.