Take control of your success

It’s college graduation season, and for many, that represents a major milestone and to others, an uncertain future. But graduates and job seekers should be optimistic. The national unemployment rate is down to 6.3 percent, a figure that hasn’t been seen since 2008. Yet news reports paint a gloomier outlook, saying many may be forced to take jobs they’re overqualified for, or potentially, go outside of their major. It’s hard not to look at these conflicting employment facts and wonder: Can I grow a successful career?

These employment statistics are interesting, but before you hang your career future on them, I’d like to offer you a way to achieve any goal. This approach gives you – not the economy or the shaky job market – control of your success.

Relationships are crucial to your success.

I discovered early in life that highly successful people are distinguished by the way they leverage the power of relationships in a way that allows everyone to win. These individuals approach relationships with genuine generosity, producing relational currency that causes others to gravitate toward them. Over time, through repeated acts of generosity, they begin to build powerful connections that lead to new opportunities, and it’s in those opportunities that success can be found.

As you embark on a new post-college path, here are five ways you can move more powerfully toward your goals – career or otherwise – through relationships:

  • Get clear about what you want. Of course, you want to land a great job, but really, what are you after? Think about your ultimate career goal and be sure you have a vivid image of what that looks like. Have your eye on the corner office? Looking to be at the top of your sales team? Want to be known as an expert or thought leader in your industry? Imagine the future you want.
  • Identify the people who can help. Once you’re clear about your goal, develop a list of the key individuals who might offer direct help or a referral. Feel free to dream big here, but also recognize that some of the most influential people in your network may be someone you least expect.
  • Do your homework. Do enough research about the individuals you identified, so you can deliver Five Packets of Generosity. The goal of your research is to find a way to help and a way to care. When you can do that for each person on your list, you’re ready to make contact.
  • Don’t keep score. Generosity means giving freely without the expectation of something in return, and that’s an important principle when building relationships. Focus on making others successful, and in time, you will also achieve the success you want. Just don’t keep a tally.
  • Be intentional about connecting. Reach out consistently and frequently to key people in your network. Opportunities go to people who are in the right place at the right time; you must be visible to receive them. Be sure to reach out when you don’t have an implicit need, but rather, something to share. And if you’re wondering what you might give a person who already has everything, read this.
  • Never eat alone. Relationships are easier to build outside the confines of the office or a professional networking event. You eat lunch every day. Why not enjoy lunch with a key influencer in your network? If you like to work out, invite a colleague to join you. Have an interest in a local non-profit? Chances are someone you should meet shares that interest. The point is this: always be looking for opportunities to connect with others. You’ll never eat alone and you’ll shed the invisibility cloak that keeps you hidden from great opportunities.

Interested in learning more? I’m speaking at Colorado Technical University (CTU) on June 20, 2014 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mountain. Join me via a free, live webcast when I’ll share more ways to build a powerful professional network. To register, go  here.