Thursday, March 24, 2011

Be Proactive

I BLOG today about the first habit of Steven Covey's blockbuster book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book lies on the little table at the head of my bed and has for years. In my opinion it is one of the most effective books ever written on managing yourself as well as managing a team or running a corporation.

It was precisely nine years ago that I sat at my desk at home and had a nice conversation with a lady with Human Resources of Bristol-Myers-Squibb telling me that I no longer had a job there. They had purchased our division from DuPont and had decided that they did not need any of the managers in my sector any longer. It is an oft repeated scenario in corporate America. They treated me kindly with severance pay, health care and outplacement counseling. I had worked for them for thirty years. They had helped me raise my family, kept a roof over their heads and educate them.

Now what? I was 55 years of age, male and a non-minority. I learned a lesson very quickly. No one and I do mean NO ONE wanted to help me. Most of the people that I had helped to get jobs, get hired as consultants, mentored, advised and otherwise forwarded their careers, would not even return my phone calls and e-mails. Some few did and I actually had a handful of interviews. The lesson hit home impactfully. No one wanted to hire someone who knew more than they did and had accomplished more than they had in their own careers. My resume' was killer. I had done a lot of impressive things. I could not dampen it and misrepresent who I was.

I quickly learned that " If it was to be, then it was up to me." I decided that I would become a Realtor. Hah, what a revelation. There were almost 3,000 realtors in the Tallahassee area in that day and time. If you do the math you make the following conclusion: Tallahassee had a population of approximately 300,000 in those days. If they lived 4 to a home then that would make 75,000 homes in our town. Let's assume that 50% of them owned homes. So that makes 37,500 homes that could possibly be marketed. So the conclusion is that there was already one realtor for every 13 homes in Tallahassee. Now those are some tough odds. Currently there are about 1200 agents covering Tallahassee.

Last year I was in the top 13 percentile of realtors by volume of sales in the Tallahassee market. That is to say that 87% of those licensed as realtors in our town sold less than I did. My brokerage sole proprietorship stood at #99 in sales volume. There are 367 brokerages. I have been successful in this gig. How did I do it? Simply stated I was proactive.

Major premise: No one gives a damn about you in the employment world. Minor premise: You have to be your own advocate. You have to re-invent yourself. You must take the skills and knowledge you have accumulated over the years and find a way to ply them to your advantage. That is just what I did.

I would say that one of the most important aspects of being proactive is to promote your self at every opportunity. As you can tell by the timber of this BLOG I have no problem doing that. You cannot accomplish this self promotion in a vacuum. You have to get amongst the people. Join a club, take up a hobby involving others, if nothing else go to the mall and just speak to people. Take some classes, volunteer at the hospital, etc.

As you meet people don't be shy about telling them about yourself. Develop a little "Me in 30 seconds" speel. Ask people about their jobs. Get their cards. Ask if they would mind if you send them a resume'? As you do all this you are building a network. That network will work for you.

Get up to speed on any phase of technology that you are weak in. Smart phones, computers, internet, and so forth. Post up on Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, My Space, etc. Post onto them often. BLOG. Create yourself a website. You can do this for free. Link all your social networks onto your website. If you Google "Tallahassee+realtor" you will get 513,000 hits. I will come up in the top 30. Why? Because of all that I just described to you. All that stuff combines to give you a better web presence.

How do you become successful in your campaign? The same way a dark horse wins a political office. Constant promotion. Staying on message and never giving up.

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