You’re a shop assistant in a huge department store. You’re standing near the entrance when you notice someone standing by the store guide, just staring at it. You go over and say –
‘Good morning, can I help you?’
‘Yes,’ comes the reply.
‘Are you looking for something in particular? Can I help you find a specific department?’
‘Yes,’ a second time.
How frustrating! You’re trying to help but how can you if you have no idea what the prospective shopper wants?
Now picture these scenarios. You’d love to take a sabbatical and travel round Europe but you don’t really know where to start. You’re running your own business and have a dream of running a live workshop but aren’t really sure what to do next. You’re fed up with your current role and are ready for a change.
How can you make progress with any of those scenarios? There’s one key step you can take.
In fact, tell lots of people. The chances are that someone you know may be able to help you – or they know someone who can help you. Don’t just tell your friends. In his study on the strength of weak ties, Mark Granovetter asserts that it’s our acquaintances rather than our close friends who are most likely to be able to help when we’re looking for a new job: they are moving in different circles to us and so will hear about opportunities that we and our inner circle of friends won’t.
In the first scenario, if you’re at the hairdresser and you’re asked what your holiday plans are, talk about your hopes of a round-Europe trip: your hairdresser may very well know someone who’s been on that kind of adventure.
If you’re at a networking event and asked what you do, mention the fact that you’re hoping to run a live workshop and ask if your new contact knows anyone who’s done something similar.
Looking for a career change? Let people know and give them an idea of what you’re looking for. Talk about it with your nearest and dearest but widen your search by talking to that guy at the gym, the woman you chat with on your commute, the people you meet at the school gate, anyone with whom it seems appropriate. My experience is that most people are only too glad to help out others, particularly if you offer to help them too.
Don’t be like the irritating customer in the department store: allow people to help by communicating what you want.
Today’s pebble for your thoughts: Are you talking to people about what you want to do? Are you asking them what they want to do? How can you help each other?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you want to transform your work and life, email me telling me what it is you want and let’s have a conversation about how we can work together.