There’s a story of an Italian Billionaire when asked if he had to start over from scratch what he’d do (I searched Google 50 times to find the original without luck). He replied that he’d take any job to make $500, buy a nice suit, then go to parties where he’d meet successful people. The implication being that he meet someone who’d offer him a job, share an opportunity, etc.
I’m almost 40 and of the 5 career type jobs I’ve had in my life (I run my own business now), 4 came through networking. Only 1 came out of applying to a job listing.
But networking isn’t something you just go out and do. It’s immensely more effective if you have simple people skills. And when I say simple, I mean spend a couple hours reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Read that and try it out at a party and you’ll be blown away by how effective it is and how after meeting and talking with a few people and asking them about themselves, how they’ll want to help you, without you asking them.
When I asked my old boss who was the most remarkable sales person I’ve met, what he did to improve his sales skills, he told me that right out of college without any skills or pedigree degree, he took a job as a limo driver. He was reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and thought it would be worth trying out. He would ask his customers one simple question when they got in the limo, “So tell me about what you do.” That simple question resulted in a huge increase in tips he received. Notice he didn’t ask his customers, “What do you do?” There’s a subtle difference. If you ask the latter, many people will just tell you in a few words what they do. If you ask the former, it’s an invitation for them to tell you their story. Few people will turn that down.
At one point early in my career, I was doing research in the medical field and realized I wasn’t interested in it or where it would lead. I wanted to make more money and get into the business side of things (this was right after the tech crash in the San Francisco area), so I spent nearly 9 months relentlessly applying to jobs, writing cover letters, researching companies. With no success. I was doing it all wrong.
One night, my roommate asked if I wanted to go to a party. Sure, no problem. We went. I didn’t know a single person there. At one point, everyone did shots. I wandered back to the kitchen to get a beer. There was one other guy in the kitchen and I introduced myself. We talked for a while, I asked him what he did and he said he worked in biotech. I mentioned I was looking to get into the field, and he said his company was actually hiring. My resume got send to the hiring manager, and I was interviewing within a couple weeks. You can guess what my next job was.
There are a million paths to getting rich. And there are countless people who’ve gotten rich who are jerks, tyrants, manipulative, conniving, and all around assholes. When you’re working in different industries, you’ll start to feel that all the successful people are this way. But in reality, these are only the people who leave the most lasting impression, not because they’re the only people who succeed.
But there’s unlikely anyone out there successful who wouldn’t emphasize the value of people skills in succeeding.
If you would like to become a millionaire, keep on reading the Source
I once interviewed a guy who looked good on paper but when he got to the face to face, it became clear he was a nutcase. During the behavioral part of the interview he told this story about building a doghouse on his neighbor’s property line and the neighbor objecting, so he angrily took an axe and knocked it down. Throughout the interview, he cleaned his fingernails with a pocket knife. At the conclusion of the interview he told me he wouldn’t leave until I’d given him 5 good reasons I wouldn’t hire him. I decided not to play the game and told him he wasn’t a good fit. (And he wasn’t, aside from being abrasive and not qualified and crazy.). He sat there drumming his fingers on the table and said, well that’s one reason. I was actually somewhat afraid of him, so I called security and had him escorted out.
A more savvy and experienced interviewer won’t ask this question. They’ll ask the much more relevant “What do you perceive as your key areas for development?”
If you are asked the “weaknesses” question, answering in an honest and disclosing manner concerning areas for development will generally yield a favorable result. I personally rank introspection, humility and a thirst for knowledge very highly, even if some of the areas for development are areas in which I wish the candidate were stronger today.
People who sit at the intersection of intellect, insight and honesty can pretty much overcome most developmental goals, and smart employers should be looking for well-rounded “best athletes” rather than bundles of skills (unless the role in question is incredibly narrow and task-focused).
If the company with whom you are interviewing doesn’t value such qualities, they are likely not the company for you.