As an approachable leader and champion for both the multifamily industry and my company, I’m asked almost daily how to get to the next level. They’ve taken classes, have a degree, a designation or two and yet their career with their current company is at a standstill. Professionals want to grow, to make more money, to be challenged, to feel like they’re making a contribution, to make their mark… but they’re often unsure about how to find a new position.
You might be thinking this is a no-brainer; you’ll just head to an internet job board, type in the type of position you want, and search through the hundreds or thousands of results. Maybe you’ll apply to all of them, I mean… the more you apply to the better your chances, right?
To quote one of my favorite plays, Death of a Salesman, “It’s who you know, and the smile on your face! It’s contacts, Ben, contacts!”
Sure, applying to any and every position that even slightly resembles what you’re hoping to do, does seem to make sense, statistically. But, you’re going to burn through a lot of energy sending dozens of resumes and cover letters, why not put your time to a little better use and start networking, instead?
The multifamily housing industry affords us so many places to connect with likeminded professionals. From peers to potential supervisors, interacting has never been easier. Have great ideas? Share them… people will take notice. Super smart firecracker? Let your personality & knowledge shine… and attract people who are looking for someone as dynamic as you are! Are you a great coach? Help others out with their questions about the business, potential employers frequent the message boards and someone who’s always there, lending a hand to other industry professionals might just be who they’d like on their team! As the quote above mentions, It really is, often times, about who you know (or who knows you, or of you).
Christine Schoellhorn, one of my mentors and Managing Director of Real Estate at Greystar, told me a long time ago that “Presentation is EVERYTHING”. I took that advice to heart and think about it when I get up every morning, I think about it when I’m choosing what to share on my various Social Media platforms, I think about it when I craft a blog (like this one), I think about it when I’m preparing a presentation, I think about it when I take photos I intend to share, I think about it when I reply to the message board posts. In a nutshell, I think about it before I do just about everything and with good reason. Everything I put out there, is a reflection of my character, my work ethic, my professionalism… it’s me! I personally want it to be the absolute best representation possible, because that’s who I am and who I continually strive to be… the best! With a smile on my face (it really is always there… I’m a happy person).
When you’re thinking about getting to that next level and you decide to wisely spend your time networking, be sure to represent you in the best light possible. Choose the right photo, check your spelling and grammar, craft a signature that is professional and interesting, stand out by being involved and become a subject matter expert on the topic that you’re the most passionate about, let your hair down (while remaining professional, but by showing your personality a little bit, you’ll attract potential employers who appreciate YOU and your style. Resulting in a better fit, overall, and longer employment).
Connect with people and do it with flair! When asking to connect on LinkedIn, don’t use their pre-written “connect” message. Craft your own, make it personal, if it’s with a company you’d like to work for, say that! Every single connection I request, I customize to that specific person. Sadly, I’ve received MANY connection requests and not a SINGLE one has been customized. This is a huge area of opportunity, if you want to stand out from the crowd. The little things matter, never forget that. Same thing goes for other sites that you connect on, send a personalized message or note. If they’ve accepted, engage them. There’s nothing worse than connecting for the sake of connecting. Be proactive and start a dialogue. They’ve already accepted you, so take the bull by the horns and speak.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
When considering making that leap to the next level, do it cautiously. What’s the fire in your belly? Are you an operations person or is training more your speed? Do you want to eventually run the company? Then maybe your next step is a Regional Manager. Are you a mathematical genius? Perhaps accounting is your ideal career path. Do what makes you happy, because coming to work every day, in a position you aren’t passionate about takes its toll on you. Really think through what your career is going to look like and then take the steps to make it happen. You can always revisit your path, if you find it’s not what you hoped it would be… but consider what you like doing now, chances are good that it’s what you’ll like doing later. Craft a plan and then work it.
DO YOUR HOME WORK
Finally, another consideration is the company itself. Before jumping into a new role at a new company, do your homework and make sure it’s also going to be a good cultural fit. Some companies are very formal and require suits every day. If that’s not in-line with you and your personal “culture” you won’t feel comfortable there. Are you someone who is big picture and likes to contribute or have a voice within the organization? Then make sure your company is one that’s receptive, open to ideas and values a colleagues input. Never be shy about asking questions related to the culture and atmosphere of an organization. Remember, you’ll be spending a very good portion of your week, every week, within the confines of the company and if there’s a clash in your style are “theirs”… you won’t be happy long and they probably won’t be happy with you, either.
Trying to be someone else won’t last long. Every company and every role at every company has its own personality. When trying to get to the next level, make sure that your personality and that of both the company and the role is a match. Making it a match, will only result in being dissatisfied and you’ll be back to “looking”, once more.
Is getting to the next level on your list of 2012 resolutions? It’s not too late to start networking and attain your goal!