Get over the guilt, the shyness, and the embarrassment about asking for help in your job search. Change the way you ask for help, as well. Let’s break it down:
Your embarrassment and guilt comes across as lacking confidence. Elizabeth secured a meeting with Frank for help on her job search, needing his help in introducing her to some executives. She came to Frank’s office door and didn’t knock or let him know she was there, so they lost 5 minutes since Frank just kept working, unaware she was on time. Then, her very first words were “I’m so sorry, Frank, I know you are very busy and don’t have time to meet with me.” Elizabeth continued with “I won’t take much of your time and if you can’t help me I understand.”
What is Frank’s first impression? That she would be afraid of collaborating in a business environment, she is lacking confidence, and we just lost 5 minutes of our 30 minutes for her apologies. I’m probably not going to refer her to people I know. Harsh, eh? Well, Frank will never tell Elizabeth any of that, and he’ll be cordial. However, he may not become a raving fan of Elizabeth’s going forward.
Have a clear job-search goal and be excited about it! The meeting continued and Frank asked “So, Elizabeth, what are you looking for?” . Elizabeth responded “Well, I’m not sure, which is why I’m here.” Not good. Your network is ideally suited to help you reach a goal, not being a career counselor. Yes, there are a few who may enjoy this level of discussion, but, during my 30+ years in Fortune 500 companies, most networking is best when you have narrowed this down yourself. There are many resources to help you and see my blogs on goal-setting.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. In front of a mirror, in your mind, or with a job search buddy, practice what you will do and say from the minute you enter the doorway through your closing summary of the meeting. From the strong hand-shake and eye contact, the first words out of your mouth, all the way to the closing hand-shake and smile. If Elizabeth had done this, her valuable 30 minutes with Frank would have resulted in an entirely different set of “help”.
Raise the bar, job-seekers. Think before connecting. Plan and prepare before asking. Cut the Crap, Get a Job. “Crap” comes in the form of the excuses you make and the mistakes you are making that sabotage your odds of success in this new job search era. You can do this and I’m here to help.