Throughout my professional career much of my most important work has been done in winning engagements with clients. Yep, I am and always will be a sales guy. Did a chill just go up your spine? “Being in sales is icky.” Are you nodding yet? But most people know that in many ways we are all salesmen. I wrote about that in 2010 and feel no differently today.
It’s one thing to go for the sale (or the new job for that matter), and quite another to precisely target the kind of company that interests you enough to work for or with. I mean, when looking for a job or new development opportunities, most of the time beggars can’t be choosers right? I’ve been in that position and it’s difficult and not enjoyable in any way.
So how can you break that cycle? You know, the cycle, the one in which you stay at a job long enough to detest working at your current company, and are bored and aggravated with your co-workers. Or the one in which you are overly dependent on your best client and are so busy doing the work there’s not enough time to find that next great client. You’re nodding now right?
We all are aware that people can easily become mired in their own routines, making change more difficult than it should or can be. Yet it’s incredibly satisfying to take that first step. The first day you start looking for a different job, or a new company to pursue doing business with, is a great one. The reason is because you are actually DOING something about your current situation. While there’s no guarantee of a successful outcome you are certainly a lot closer to changing the status quo than if you just wait until tomorrow, next week or next month. Not to mention next year.
Why am I making a big deal about what seems so obvious? Mostly because I’ve personally been able to find great companies to work with, those with missions I believe in, and people I like to interact with on a regular basis. And here’s the really odd thing, my success rate in targeting a new prospect is EXTREMELY low. Far less than 5% of the companies that I seek out for a possible business relationship become our clients. Most often my entreaty is totally ignored. (That has never bothered me). Other times I might get a reply of no thanks. But I keep on looking for new and interesting opportunities and because I am doing it out of self-interest I remain engaged in the process and not deterred by my overall low rate of success.
And you know what? Sometimes I AM successful in connecting with, talking to and winning a new engagement with a cool new client. My goal in those cases is to work with that client for a long time or at least as long as our collective missions are aligned.
I don’t mean to sugarcoat this idea of seeking out working with companies that have missions that truly interest and inspire you. For many of us there will be plenty of instances where we take what we can get and while not happy about it, make the best of it.
What I am suggesting is for you to consider the kinds of work you’d like to do and the kinds of places you can do that work and then find multiple ways to contact those companies. Give it your best shot. And then try others. Your being in control of the process is a very empowering way to live.
At least that’s the way I see it.