In my recent post "Don't Look for a Job. Build Relationships" I suggested that as you search for a new boss (not a job), start by building relationships with people. Send articles, reconnect by organizing get togethers with professionals in your network, introduce people etc. People hire people. Developing mutually beneficial relationships with others is key. Ask yourself, "How I can help the person I'm about to reach out to?"
Once you've dusted the rust off the relationship building machine and are on your way, what's key to asking for help with your search for a new boss? How can you best help someone help you?
1. Understand your "act". Your history. Where you've come from professionally. Invest a significant amount of time understanding what your greatest accomplishments have been. What problems have you solved that no one else wanted to solve? What did your previous bosses most appreciate about you? And of these accomplishments, which set you apart as an A Player? Which might be in high demand in your field?
The reason you need to search your soul and every blue jeans pocket for this answer is that you'll need to specifically HELP OTHERS HELP YOU identify potential new bosses that would love to have you on their teams.
For example, if you're great at sorting a messy, risky situation, meaning a company in turn around mode, you can share that "case study" in detail:
"I prefer to help turn around companies. I am motivated by risk and a situation where I can make a potentially huge difference in a short time. I figure that the situation is so low that everything I'll do will help, even if it's not 100% correct and we need to make adjustments, because it can only go up from there. My mindset is that where there's risk, there's opportunity to contribute. A couple of times, I was brought in and the incumbent left the same day. No transition at all. It's totally fine and I will figure it out. For me, this is more rewarding than coming in to the ship that sails calmly and would be very challenging to effect change."
Compare to this:
Two people see each other at a professional association event.
Jane: "Mary, I'm starting to look for a new job."
Mary: "What kind of role do you think you'll do next?"
Jane: "I've done a lot in my career. I'm pretty flexible. It could be a start up or something further along and I don't mind the industry. I've been consulting here and there while I've been looking."
Mary: "I'll keep you in mind if I hear of anything."
Would Mary really be able to help Jane with meaningful connections based on what Jane described? Very little chance.
Other areas to be specific in are the type of culture that you work best in and certainly industry if it's a deal breaker.Some people feel that by bringing specificity to the discussion, they are limiting their options. Not really so. The broad option lacks direction and you will seem to lack conviction, passion, and direction too.
2. Practice delivering your story. Write it out then say it. You'll get practice writing emails. And this should take you time if your goal is to be concise. Readers don't have much time, so get to your point very quickly.
HELP OTHERS HELP YOU.