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Some of us love networking, some of us hate it. Whatever your reaction, unless you want to rely on the “work hard, and hope for the best” approach, some additional ideas for exploring your career options might help.

Purposefully connecting and holding conversations to find out how attractive a new role, organisation, or sector might be for your career progression can be crucial.

These conversations can be more valuable than traditional networking events, where you may feel obliged to randomly speak to the person nearest to you, whilst clutching a glass of warm white wine in a room full of strangers.

Purposefully connecting can give you much better outcomes too: ideas, information, perspective, mutually supportive relationships.

As part of my MBA I learnt about the Ansoff Matrix. Here is my take on adapting it to consider your career progression:

  • Think about “Product” becoming you, your CV and your expertise
  • Think about “Market” becoming the raft of organisations or sectors you could work for.

What do you want to explore? What is your biggest concern?

Here are four strategies to consider:

Strategy 1 Market Penetration – or – Mastering Your Current Role – here you need to speak with your manager, colleagues and maybe customers about how to improve

Strategy 2 Product Development – or – Developing Your Career With Your Existing Organisation – here your focus is to meet new people in different divisions, operations and parts of the business to find out what else might interest you moving forward

Strategy 3 Market Development – or – Moving to New Organisation, to Build on Your Expertise – here you will want to find out where there are opportunities, what it is really like working for a particular organisation or sector, and what they are needing and value

Strategy 4 Diversification – or – Something Completely Different – here you maybe starting from scratch, finding out what interests you most, and how to move to new expertise and a new organisation/sector with transferrable skills.

There is a pre-requisite though. You need a career exploration goal.

What is it that you want to find out about? From this you can work out which quadrant, which direction, and therefore which sort of strategy and connections, are going to help you the most.

Think of taking small steps. Who can you email, send a LinkedIn message to or phone, to ask for a real or virtual “find out more” 15 minute coffee? You may find yourself in a fascinating conversation, which takes longer, but ask for a short meeting first.

Along with thanks, end these coffees by asking two things:

  • Who else would it be useful for me to connect and speak with? Keep the ball rolling with your career exploration!
  • How can I reciprocate your generosity; how can I help you in return? Make it a relationship that will be useful to both of you.

What’s stopping you? At minimum you need:

  • Your career exploration goal
  • A sense of whether you are exploring in your current organisation, moving further afield or both (choose your strategy)
  • At least one person to ask for this real or virtual coffee with
  • A mindset that you cannot fail, only learn.

Let’s be clear. I’m not stopping you from the glass of warm, white wine in the crowded room. This can be part of your solution. It can be one way to meet people who you can then meet for coffee.

However the direct approach I am suggesting here can be more time effective, done virtually from the office or home, and yield different results.

What might you do next?

You might like to know I am using this approach for my own career too. It works!

I am looking to expand my international leadership development business further – Strategy 3 – and am booking virtual coffees once a week. I’m fascinated by what I am discovering, and loving the range of possibilities emerging!

Let me know if these strategies work for you, and please get in touch if  you have ideas which can help achieve my goal too! 😀 🙏 🌎

Gill How loves to work globally and internationally with managers, executives and professionals to help them to evolve, stretch and grow their leadership capability. She is a Master Executive Coach, Innovative Leadership Developer and avid walker in beautiful parts of the world ! If she can help you in developing the potential of the professionals in your organisation, get in touch!

Join our EDI book/podcast club: This month we will be discussing the 35 minute long podcast by Carla Miller about why women are not getting the feedback they need to succeed, and what we can do about it:

All are welcome! If you would like to join us and are not already on the email list, get in touch, and Gill will send you the zoom link!

Date and Time: Friday 25th August at 12.30pm BST (GMT+1)

If you like to plan ahead and enjoy plenty of reading time, 29th September bookclub will be “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay and Pexels

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

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