Can You Hear me Now?

Labor-day It's Labor Day and I'm working.

It's by choice. They say that if you love what you do, then it doesn't seem like work. That's not entirely accurate. It's still work.

It just fills you with a sense of accomplishment that nurtures the spirit, and it can help you with your career, and pay the bills as a side benefit. All kinds of goodness.

I've been giving my time freely to anyone in need of help for their careers, jobs, projects, etc. Other professionals have helped me, and I feel it's fair to pay it forward.

I've not kept count of all the times I spent on the phone and in person sharing contacts and resources with people looking for work who could not be bothered to send a thank you note or even follow up on any of the leads.

The best way to meet people is to show up at networking events. So I have attended all local events I could find for years. Many I helped organize — over 100 free events, in fact — and made my time available to whoever showed up.

Again, not keeping score, just noticing how few took me up on it in over 10 years. Understandably, people make choices with their time. They get busy on their projects, life, etc.

If you build it, they will come

The conversation about free advice is not new. Lisa Barone has been quite outspoken, like many others. I've talked about it recently again. It's not pitch one marketer, get one free day. We have a term for professional opinion, especially when it's without a relationship as foundation, it's called billable time.

If you build anything of value with your hard work, you can bet on many trying to take you down while on the way — wanting you to conform — and many more knocking on your door once they think you got there. 

Can you hear me now?

There are 1,267 posts with useful and applicable information on this blog, plus eBooks — and they're free to you. Speaking for me, I know that when I'm not excelling in something it's because I don't want it enough to apply myself to it. 

If you don't like your situation, set your own rules. Indeed I find that it's very motivating and liberating to take on responsibility and make myself accountable for my own actions or lack thereof. 

Given the number of pitches I'm getting (online and off line) these days, it seems that many consider me influential. In that case, allow me to suggest a few ways you can get ahead even faster than I have, out of my experience.

On career stuff:

  • when professionals give you time for career-related advice do the work
  • be polite and professional with my contacts, and I may be inclined to share more
  • follow up on the leads you receive because you never know who knows whom
  • make it a point to be the most informed person about your problem
  • make it easy for people to say yes by doing all the organizing

On networking:

  • people have their own ways of participating in social networks, here's my policy
  • my public email address is not an invitation to be on your email newsletter list — that's not networking, that's called spam
  • figure out what you can give back (or pay forward) to the community
  • be prepared when you attend events — here are 21 things you can do at a conference
  • do your homework ahead of meetings

If asking would net you a "no", you know you're doing it wrong. And so that we're clear, things like:

  1. may I copy that post and drive traffic to my site with it?
  2. may I call you with that branding question after we barely met and I ignored you?
  3. may I start a company/blog/service with your brand name now that you've made it successful?

Are a sure way of getting off on the wrong foot with people.

It turns out that doing the work is the shortest path to success. It cuts right to what is important and will become the reason why people find you attractive. It starts with an attitude of service, of seeing everyone as your customer. Given that we're all connected, that's the best way to go.

Value your own time by not wasting that of others. You're just delaying the moment when you'll need to roll up your sleeves.

Happy Labor Day (in the US).

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0 responses to “Can You Hear me Now?”

  1. I just want to take a moment out of each of our days to say how much I appreciate your work here, Valeria. I don’t make myself so visible lately – I’m still recuperating from my illness – but know this:
    Never once have I been tempted to delete your feed from my reader. Your Labor is too important for me to ignore.
    So, Thank you.
    Meanwhile, back at the farm (my previous life was as a child on a farm in NC), Labor Day was always The Day to accomplish as much as the day would allow.
    I remember thinking how awful it was – friends would come by wanting to have fun and I was stuck in the muck of a family farm. I hated it, then. I thought it unfair. I despised my grandparents who made me get up at 4am and work until 10pm or later.
    I really, really miss those days…
    So now I work like a madman on this day, partly to honor those ‘horrible’ people who made my life so hard as a youngster, but mostly because I see things the way they did… now.
    I hope your day produces wonder.

  2. @Jon – thank you for the kind words, and for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your illness. I have a similar story about work, except for I made myself do it when I was really young. It started because I wanted to go to a high school that required buying lots of books, then I was able also to buy a stereo system… the rest is history.
    @James – two comments with a new URL back to back. Interesting. I’m not judging good/bad people as you seem to be. What I’m saying is you still gotta do the work, even when cheating may get you some temporary whatever…

  3. I was just having a similar conversation with a colleague yesterday. We are both being run nearly off our feet with work at the moment. After talking a bit about the jobs that we’re working on together, I paused and said “You know what? Even though we’re insanely busy, this is the most fun I’ve ever had at work.” She thought about it a moment, smiled, and said “Me too!”
    We’re lucky in that we’re able to do things that we’re passionate about. On the other hand, we’ve also put a fair bit of effort into getting our jobs set up so that we could do just that. You’re absolutely right in saying that it’s still work, but it does make a big difference to love what you do.
    Thanks for being a consistent source of insight and inspiration Valeria!

  4. You say you have been at this ten years, well done for being persistent, for paying it forward and sharing with your community.
    Thanks for saying what many people feel when it comes to your hard work – your three things that will net you a ‘no’.
    So, my first comment here is just an all round thank you. I shall make the effort to comment more.

  5. Valeria, thanks for a very inspirational post on Labor Day. It lays out two incredibly important concepts: 1) doing the work is the only legitimate path to success and 2) relationships cannot be taken for granted. Both principals require a daily commitment. So, as I treat Labor Day as “back to school”, I am glad to have read your post and get into the right mindset!

  6. Very thoughtful advice Valeria, thank you. I am particularly grateful for the link to 21 things I can do at a conference because I will be attending my very first conference this month (Third Tuesday Measurement Matters) and I am rather nervous about it. I will be sure to come with a good attitude, engage with my neighbours, document what I’ve learned to share with my team and chat with the organizers. Hope you had a nice and productive labour day.

  7. @Tim – busy with a purpose is very different than busy-body, and you are feeling that difference. Indeed, when you have passion on your side, it puts you in the meaning creation bucket, for yourself, and, when you’re lucky, with your clients. I continue to enjoy your thinking out loud at the blog, and sharing it. I would not have found in my circles, had you not linked to one of my posts a while back.
    @Sarah – consistently. I started much earlier. I believe I was 6 when I had my first talk. Had to step on a box to reach the mike. It was a school reunion I was at with y mom, and they were talking about my textbook. So I thought that hearing the opinion of a student would be helpful. Had the best teacher in my mother 😉 Nice to have your feedback. Because I get such thoughtful comments, I tend to remember each person who stops by here. In your case, I remember you from Third Tribes and your amazing work. Keep inspiring us, boss.
    @Mary Ann – our red carpet is always ready to welcome you here. I should probably have added that sometimes doing the work may not get you noticed quickly. However, you get noticed whenever you’re ready to expand your thinking and use your influence to help others. When that is genuine, it’s the most powerful form of recognition — because you end up not needing any.
    @Alexandra – I wrote other posts about preparing ahead of a conference, if you’re so inclined. Since TypePad has pretty poor SEO, here’s the link to one from a couple of years back: 5 tips to maximize event attendance – have fun, meet people!

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