Right before the start of my first year in university, after getting some encouragement from a friend, I knocked on the office door of my new school’s head football coach.
My objective in doing so was to see if I could help the team out in some capacity and remain connected to a sport that had become meaningful to me throughout high school.
I had no concrete expectations. I simply wanted to contribute in some way.
After a totally spontaneous 15-minute conversation with the coach, I was offered a role with the team as an assistant to their equipment manager. It paid $1000, which was a $1000 more than I figured I’d ever make.
The very next day, I was on the team bus heading to rainy Lennoxville, Québec, where I shuttled water bottles out to our players during time-outs.
It was the humble beginning of what eventually turned into a fun and very fulfilling elite amateur coaching career.
Here’s the thing…
It’s easy to develop lofty expectations when communicating with people during a job search.
If you are speaking to an employee at a company of interest and hoping they will refer you for an interview, there’s a strong chance of that thought undermining your authenticity and making you come across as desperate.
It’s OK to have an objective as you go into the conversation, but it’s healthier if the objective is something that’s actually within your control, such as:
- Ask 3-4 questions about the other person’s day-to-day work experience.
- Listen with full presence (no distractions) throughout the full chat.
- Offer to connect the other person with someone they may benefit from meeting.
- Inquire about whether your contact knows someone else you should be speaking with.
Putting the other person first is the best way I know of building a high-quality relationship.
Detaching yourself from expectations beyond your control and being in the moment with the other person (giving the gift of your time) might be the second-best way.