During a recent speech to college students, I was asked several questions at the end that told me they were searching for the source of opportunity. Who isn’t it, right? There are so many possible career paths that this is really a hard question to answer. I decided to take a look at my own customer base to get some idea where opportunities have come from. Here’s what I found.
First, let me say that this is not statistically accurate. This is only my assessment of my own business and I don’t recommend you extrapolate it too far. It’s intended to provide some insight into possible locations for your next opportunity or, at least, provide support for a strategy.
To understand where success was coming from, I took a look at the pre and post profiles of all of my past clients. I was particularly interested in reviewing what they wanted and how they went about getting it. Then, I looked for commonalities in their approach. The graph below shows the results. Note that I grouped the opportunities by strategy. The “sit and wait” strategy is one where a certain amount of effort is initially expended before any opportunity can be obtained. For example, many clients come to us seeking a raise or promotion in their existing company. They had accomplished many things in their jobs and even built a great reputation. Yet, this effort didn’t seem to lead to any major gains in income. So many people couch themselves in this type of situation for years; that is, they settle for a job when they want a career. It’s a low return proposition. If you’ve been in a company for years and haven’t reeled in any great opportunities, “sit and wait” is probably the only method that will really work for you, but why waste the good years of your life on that approach.
The second bar on the graph was from business owners who chose to invest in SEO, online marketing, etc. It does provide results, 6.5% in this case, but you can’t make huge leaps and bounds with it. You might think I wouldn’t be saying that this since my company does offer such services. I’m just letting you know what we’ve learned. That’s what a coach does. As for job seekers, we see many of those. However, their results of creating ideal profiles in social media space don’t provide those huge returns you may read about on the web. There’s just too much competition.
When you look at the graph, you don’t really see big success until you reach the “Go Get It” strategies shown in Green. In reviewing these clients, their strategy involved two very important things: people and action. It was striking to see the improvements in success as our clients engaged in activities directly with real people, not the virtual ones. Opportunities are more likely to be found or created when you are directly in front of people, not connecting on LinkedIn or Facebook.
People do business with people they know and trust.
With our entrepreneurial group, we’ve seen considerable success creation when business owners are connected, such as with partnering to sell complementary services to expand their customer base. Each owner could easily chase new customers on the web, but it’s much faster when you directly engage with a known group of buyers.
Lastly, action is a big key to building greater success. Earning a degree, starting a company or getting a new job in a new industry seemed to give our clients feelings of great success. I suspect much of this is due to the fact that these very intentional and all-encompassing activities put the full use of their power and talents to work.
One of my favorite speakers, Jim Rohn, once said “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Constant action with people will bring you your greatest success. Remember, people will allow you to do anything you want. If you want to sit and wait, they’ll let you do just that. They might think that’s what you want to do. If building greater success in life is what you seek, you have to define it and then go find people who can help you get it.
Opportunity is everywhere. Where are you looking?
Here are a few lessons from my analysis to keep in mind as you consider how to approach new opportunities.
- Be active. I know updating social profiles and networking online are touted as the keys to greater success. They are important but it really isn’t an active process because it relies on someone finding your profile and viewing it. Most people on LinkedIn are looking to receive opportunities, not give them away. What are you doing today?
- Engage with people. Business started out with direct interactions between people. It’s still the most effective way. You can ignore an email but it’s a little harder to ignore a face-to-face request. Who did you reach out to today?
- Change methods. If your current methods aren’t working for you, change them. Don’t stay in a job for 5 years waiting on a promotion. Go find one somewhere else. What changes have you made today?
- Consider a coach or mentor. Most people use coaches and mentors because they push them to action. Find someone who will help guide and push you to do what you should be doing on your own. Eventually, you’ll build the habits you need to manage your career. Who is helping you find your opportunity?
- It’s a lifestyle. Pushing yourself to build your dreams into reality requires constant effort. Most of us create new goals once we achieve old ones, encouraging ourselves to move onward and upward. The habits you create in chasing opportunity will serve you well your whole life and create the perception that others will develop of you. How do others see you?
- Assess your surroundings. Having studied high performers for many years, I’ve found that they level of success you achieve is a function of the success achieved by those around you. If you surround yourself with high achievers, you’ll become one or they’ll kick you off the team. Who is on your team?
Your opportunity is out there.
What are you waiting for?
Go Get It!