How To Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks.

Apr 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: abundance, Career advice, career choice, opportunity, strategy

PracticaL Mentor

Hard work and perseverance are the bricks and mortar of building a successful career, but being able to attract and accept opportunities are the construction cranes that lift you to new heights.

There are endless number of success stories of people being in the right place at the right time, and securing a ticket to fame and fortune. There is one thing that all of these stories have in common, the hero was prepared to say yes to the opportunity. Most of us have our own stories of opportunity lost. These stories also have one thing in common, a good reason why, the hero could not accept the opportunity. Most of the reasons get embellished over time making it sound like fate stepped in and snatched the opportunity out of reach, but in reality the opportunity went to the person who was ready.

In an article in the Star Tribune “Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks” by Robert Elsenpeter (http://www.startribune.com/jobs/career/11397586.html) the fundamentals of being ready when opportunity knocks are discussed. Building on the information in the article, and my own knowledge and experience I have complied a list of 10 things to consider to be prepared to accept good opportunities.
1. Analyze your current job. Are you doing the same work , the same way for the past several years? Perhaps you are in a rut and have tunnel vision so you wouldn’t notice an opportunity if kicked down the door. Try putting some variety in your routine. It makes you more alert to what is going on around you.
2. Express willingness and desire to take on new and more responsibilities. The usual thought that registers when faced with a new assignment is that it will be hard to learn and manage something new. Instead think of the chance to learn something new and expand into a new area.
3. Stay current with the tools of the trade. For most office workers this means computer programs and software. Take all the training your company offers to stay up to date with the tools you need to do your job and progress. Often opportunities require learning new programs and software. Make the effort.
4. Stay current with the trends and developments in your career field. Most career fields have magazines and newsletters (usually with free subscriptions). Browsing these materials at least gives you topical knowledge and an idea of what is going on.
5. Accept training when it is offered. Most companies offer training classes on a variety of subjects the broader your knowledge the more valuable and knowledgeable you appear.
6. You must be willing to take some risk. Nothing is without risk, not even crossing the street, but you can minimize the risk by looking both ways before crossing. If you stay up to date on what is happening in your industry and in your company you will be better prepared to assess the value and risk of an opportunity.
7. Build your personal and professional networks. The more people you know and are in contact with, the better your chances of learning about opportunities, and gaining support.
8. Watch the postings at your company, and also sign up for an online (free) service that alerts you of job openings in your career field. Apply to the ones that interest you to see what kind of feedback you get, and to keep your resume tuned up and ready to go when something special comes along.
9. Make an effort to get to know the managers in your company. Often upper management selects employees they know to fill vacant spots. Several of the promotions I received were never announced.
10. Take some time and define your goals, and what you are willing to risk achieving them. This is not rolling the dice risk, but most promotions come with more responsibility, work, and require learning new skills. Some require you to change companies, or even move to a different city.

Not all opportunities are good ones, that is why it is essential to be prepared as possible to determine if an opportunity is for real and fits your goals. In the article “When Opportunity Knocks, Think Twice” by Scott Belsky (http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/when- opportunity-knocks-think-twice-scott-belsky) he discusses the idea that not all opportunities to expand your horizons are profitable. Spreading yourself too thin, or diluting your expertise may not always pay off. That is why it is important to keep up with the trends in your career field and in your company. It is easy to make the mistake of jumping on a sinking ship. I once had the opportunity to go to work for a consulting firm. The offer included an increase in pay and benefits, plus the chance to learn more about designing TV Broadcast stations. I was already to jump at the opportunity, and discussed it with my boss and mentor. He told me the reason they were looking for help was that most of the TV stations that were going to be built were already designed, and that it would be a dead business in two years. On his advice I turned down the offer, and the firm folded within a year. Most of the remaining engineers had a very difficult time finding work. Unlike myself at the time, my boss was current on the state of the industry, and through his network had learned that employees who figured out the end was near found new jobs before they were out of work.

A peace of sage advice given me by one of my mentors was to always say yes when asked if you were interested in an opportunity, no matter who asks. His theory is you can always say no later, but once you say no the opportunity is gone. In addition, letting everyone know you are interested in opportunities keeps your options open. Once there was a vacancy in another department that I was interested in. One of my co-workers asked me if I was interested. Thinking I was being sly, I said no in an effort to avoid having a competitive target on my back. Instead, my good friend told everyone that I was not interested, and word got back to me that I was withdrawn from consideration due to my lack of interest. When anyone asks if you are interested always say yes. You can always add I would like to know more about it. This gives you a chance to evaluate the opportunity and risk involved.

Good luck The PracticaL Mentor.

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