For many of us, a new year brings new resolutions and maybe a few new goals. And this year? Well, let’s just say I think the events of 2020 have inspired many of us to reassess how we live and work.
Numerous people have contacted me this month, asking if I have any tips for exploring a new life role. Some are interested in a career change for lifestyle reasons; others have been forced to transition due to economic challenges. Whatever the reason, everyone wants to know how to approach their exploration efficiently, thoughtfully and creatively.
My advice? I call it the “6 steps and 60 conversations approach”. Here’s how it works…
It all starts with your top 20
Research shows that most people have twenty key relationships (KRs) spread across their personal and professional lives. These are the most important, impactful people you know and trust. Asking them for their opinion on how to identify and land a new life role is a great way to kick-start your exploration. Someone who has had different experiences, cares about you, and genuinely wants to help can open your eyes to new directions you may have been reluctant to pursue or perhaps never even considered.
These twenty initial conversations typically lead to at least twenty other net new contacts your KRs think you should speak with. After these additional twenty conversations, plus plenty of time for reflection and research, circle back with your original twenty KRs, and let them know how things went. That will put you at sixty conversations in total. And at that point, you should hopefully be able to identify a few new lanes to explore, have some preliminary career criteria to screen opportunities with, and be able to draft a paragraph describing what you want out of your next career, who you want to work with, and so on.
6 tips for a successful career exploration
Sixty conversations is a lot, I know. Here’s how to ensure you get the most out of the experience.
- Know and build your network intentionally. I find new life roles tend to emerge directly or indirectly from one’s existing network, plus those peoples’ networks. Even when it’s your own business build, 80% of it will consist of current relationships or be just one degree of separation at most. So, don’t wait around for the phone to ring. Validating your existing contacts and expanding their reach will be a real asset to you.
- Enjoy the process. And remember, these are just conversations. Be respectful of people’s time and know this is a journey. It will take some time. Some doors will not open, and some emails will go unanswered.
- Know it will be an adventure. There will be highs and lows. Finding your new life role is like climbing a mountain, except you don’t know where the peak is. That’s okay. It’s there, hidden by the clouds, but you’ll climb through. The good news is on this mountain, just one relationship can end up being an escalator!
- Take notes. Review, journal, list out key people you’ve met over your professional career who are now influencers. Ask your existing network who they recommend as leaders for you to meet. Then discern if you have warm introductions to reach out to them. Try creating a wish list of the leaders who are a stretch to meet and why you want to meet them (their values, fun to work with, etc.).
- Start now! Journal your summary of you, what you bring to the table and what you’re looking for next. Review your summary with a few key mentors, and then start setting up early intro meetings. Yes, Zoom is not as great as in person, but it doesn’t matter! Just start.
- Have your elevator pitch ready. Ensure it aligns with your personal brand, CV and LinkedIn details, so it feels natural when delivering it. Doing so will help significantly during your sixty conversations. Remember, these conversations are practice, and your pitch may evolve based on the feedback you receive.
I hope you find this approach helpful. I know myself and many others have. Good luck in your exploration and remember, YOU are the single biggest factor when it comes to finding that new life role.