TAPPING IN TO NETWORks AND OTHER tools to BUILD SUCCESS IN today’s complex workplace

Today’s Canadian workforce is more diverse and complex than at any other time in our history. Combine this with rapid technological transformation (disruption!) and it’s no wonder that business leaders are wondering how best to navigate these challenges.

Each person brings their own unique personality to the table (just one example: the age-old differences in communication styles between Introverts and Extraverts). Today’s workplace is also multi-generational (spanning 5 generations from Veterans to Generation Z) and today’s workplace is multi-cultural (immigrants make up more than 20% of our workforce).

So, what is the recipe for taking all of this complexity, and channeling it into cohesive, top performing teams? Laurie Sutherland, Career Management Consultant with Veritus Disability & Career Management, develops customized workshops that unearth each individual’s unique gifts, build bridges of understanding and help companies chart a path to capitalize on these differences, rather than be challenged by them.

“We can start by using a tool like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) to understand individual personality differences in terms of how people take in information, make decisions, and work most effectively,” says Sutherland. “Then we add in an examination of the different motivators and preferred working styles for each generation, and combine this with cross-cultural understanding of differences in communications styles and relationships to authority.”

According to John Bailey, Education and Employment Coordinator with the Winnipeg Military Family Resource Centre, Sutherland delivered a workshop for military families and transitioning members at their Career and Transition Planning Fair in October.

“Since the event I have had considerable positive feedback regarding how skilled, knowledgeable and passionate Laurie was throughout, and how she made them feel at ease and comfortable asking questions about networking and their career aspirations. I would highly recommend Laurie to deliver workshops to any organization looking for an highly competent Career Development professional who can support groups and individuals with their career development needs.”

In honour of Canada Career Month, we asked Sutherland to share career search and success tips:

1. Networking is important during all stages of your career, even if you’re not currently looking for work. It’s useful in all aspects of life actually. However, if you’re actively job searching, to be really effective in finding the job you want, you need to launch a strategic job search campaign. That campaign needs to be made up of many components but there’s little doubt that the ability to network effectively is one of the most important components.”

2. Sutherland says that in order to get started, you must search through your networks. “Looking at jobs that are posted and applying online absolutely should be a component of your job search campaign, but the reason that networking is so important is because of something we call the Hidden Job Market. The hidden job market is simply all of the jobs available at any given moment, that are not posted online, or visibly advertised – for example in newspapers, “help wanted” signs, and so on. It’s hard to measure what the exact percentage is, but estimates are that anywhere from 60 to 80% of jobs aren’t advertised or visible…” According to Sutherland, networking is your best means of accessing that large pool of hidden possibilities, because everyone knows someone who knows someone…who might be able to direct you to that perfect job! That’s what networking is, plugging into that vast network of interconnectedness that we all inhabit.

3. Prepare an elevator pitch! “Networking is simply having conversations, that’s all it is, and we all know how to have conversations. The trick is knowing how to start. The best way to start is with what we call an “Elevator Pitch”,  a brief 20 to 30 second statement that you use to start the conversation…you don’t need to tell the person everything they need to know about you, just enough to invite them into further conversation.” Sutherland says to start with being clear about your goal and then using the Elevator Pitch to start a conversation to help you achieve that goal. There are 4 components to a good Elevator Pitch, the first three are fairly straightforward. Simply start by introducing yourself: #1 Who you are, #2 What you do, #3 Give an example to illustrate. #4 Clearly state your desired outcome.”

For example:

“My name is Jane Jansen, I’m an Accountant with over 17 years’ primarily in the Insurance and Financial Services sector. One of my key roles was performing internal audits. I loved identifying areas of inefficiency and coming up with cost cutting solutions, while improving our customers’ experience of our services. I’m proud that we increased our customer retention by 15% over the last 5 years.  I’m considering moving into your industry and I’d like to find out more about it. Tell me a little bit about your experience at ABC company?”

Remember: You already have a network that you can start with — your current friends & family. Then think about everyone you engage with throughout the day. It might be the person sitting next to you on the bus on your early morning commute or the barber or hairdresser cutting your hair. If you are a parent shuffling your kids from one activity to activity, strike up a conversation with a few of the other parents hanging around the rink or community centre. We’ve all experienced that everyone, knows someone who knows someone else… even in everyday encounters, with a few simple sentences explaining who you are and what you are looking for, you can tap into a wealth of information and opportunity.

Job searching or not, go to professional events, conferences, or seminars and network there. Go online and research companies that interest you or use LinkedIn to search for people that you would like to talk to…prepare your elevator pitch and begin to network your way to career success.

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