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Remember, You are Always On

Published November 27, 2012 11:56 AM by Adrianne OBrien
Editor's note: This blog was written by Glen McDaniel, a healthcare consultant, clinical lab scientist, speaker and freelance writer. His interests include mediation, leadership, change and ethics.

Have you ever heard the expression that someone is always "on'? That comes from the showbiz reference to the fact that the person mentioned always acts as if they are on stage, or before the cameras. The inference is that they are acting for effect and not being "real."

Well, I submit that in today's competitive world it is not such a bad thing to be on. I thought about this after hearing how several friends landed long-awaited jobs in nontraditional ways. One is a program manager for a government initiative geared towards high school dropouts. The other is now the CEO of a hospital.

Both had been unemployed, then under-employed, then unhappily employed in unfulfilling jobs outside their specialties.  In the case of the CEO, she met a stranger on the beach and struck up a conversation about what she did but pointed out her passion was really healthcare operations.  He was friendly, yet professional and he told her he was the president of a healthcare company, and was in town to visit the company's local hospital, which was in a state of flux.

He gave her his business card and asked her to call him (only a hard core executive goes to the beach with business cards!). After a couple of interviews, she got the CEO job, with the task of turning around a flailing hospital. This is her ideal job.

She did not have to leave town or sell her house or uproot her family. The executive told her he was fascinated by her stories, her resilience in creating jobs along the way and her obvious passion for healthcare. Although they met casually (and she initially had no idea what he did for a living) she was friendly, but professional and forceful.

My other friend got his job in a similar way. He met someone at a party who networked with him and asked him to call a colleague in government, who then referred him to someone in the mayor's office. Long story short, he got a the job of program manager two months later after five intense interviews.

Both examples point to the power of networking but, more significantly, to the importance of being professional and exuding your brand even in social situations. In neither case were my friends being fake or in heavy-duty sales mode, but they were acting professionally enough -- and had their elevator speech refined and smooth enough -- to attract attention that later landed them their dream jobs.

So being on in this context does not mean being fake, stiff or in constant sales mode. It does mean being kind, courteous and professional. It means being clear on how you can add value to an organization that would be lucky to land you. It does mean having a finely honed elevator speech that sounds sincere, passionate and natural.

It pays to be on because you never know who is in the audience.

2 comments

One way to get the Sale Shield down is to work with potential curmsteos as if you're a consultant to their business. Help them improve their success rather than immediately start pitching a product or service. Be their agent for good, useful information and good choices that are right for their goals.Keep in mind that this is a risk as well, since they might just use you as an information source, but not buy your wares. It's a small price to pay, because if they trust you as being an expert, the likelihood of them straying is lower.I've seen the best sales people walk away from a deal, while also steering their prospect to the right direction and never hear from them again. But the headaches of trying to sell them something they don't need or completely changing your offering to exactly what they want is a bad precedent.

Arixel Arixel, BAXsQqKehkqPZZFhP - lGcSELNIRVULylNoIs, wLnYXLsWiEbYZpWkTt March 4, 2013 4:22 AM
lMlpAzUhLkZABmeZg MI

This is so true. I can think of at least 2 times in my career (one very early one and the other about 5 years ago) when I got substantial career pushes by being evaluated when I did not even know it.

The first one came after grad school when I was unemployed but decided to volunteer with the local Red Cross. Another volunteer befriended me and we worked together on several projects.  We talked and she learned I was out of  a job.  

Even though the work at the Red Cross had nothing to do with my business or management skills, I must have impressed her in soem way. Because she told her husband about me, I met him briefl. But through her husband, I landed an interview at a great company and got  a job. She could not evaluate my knowledge certainly but she was impressed by how I conducted myself and took a chance on me.

The other example was when I  was selected to represent my department in a hospital wide P&P committe. Through that committe I got to know several physicians. When a couple left to join a new group, they asked me to manage their office even though I had never done practice management before. Again, it was from watching me perform over an 18 month period that convinced them I was the sort of person they needed to do the job.

I did not even know about the job. They approached me. even when I expressed hesitation they said they knew I had the energy, intelligence and ethics to get the job done. I loved that job!

I am acutely aware now that I am always "on" during every interaction at work or socially.

Good blog!

Mercy Taylor February 6, 2013 7:35 PM
Baltimore MD

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