1/3 From Our Friend, Tarey Gettys 97 - "Always Have an Ask in Hand"
Tarey served with the SEALs and earned an MBA at Stanford. To follow are three ideas that he offers for improving the efficiency of career transition. You can follow-up with Tarey on Linked-In or I'll be happy to introduce you.
A salty Warrant Officer once told me that when socializing with my teammates, I should always 'have a beverage in hand'. Don't misunderstand me, he wasn't telling me to booze, fraternize or lose my professionalism. Not even close. Rather, he was teaching me to understand how to read the landscape, build trust and maintain a state of readiness. You see, by having a simple drink in my hand, I visibly showed that:
I understood the landscape. Work was over and it was time to chill.
I was open, relaxed and approachable. This helps build trust.
I maintained tactical awareness. By simply moving my drink from one hand to the other, I always had a semi-defensible position.
How does this relate to the veteran transition? Simple. When socializing or networking for a job or new career opportunity, rather than always having a beverage in hand, it's much more important to always 'have an ask in hand'. The reason is that inevitably someone will ask you the million dollar question - "How can I help you?" Most of us, without knowing, make the mistake of answering this million dollar question with the first thing that comes to mind, such as:
"I'm good." "Not sure." "Um...Um...Um."---- and my favorite...
This is not a good outcome - it's actually terrible. Even if you are able to somehow salvage the situation and manage to book a follow-up conversation, while much better than staying 'blank', there is a better way. For starters, it's critical that you develop an ask - something meaningful that will help you move forward, gain momentum and...
Get off the X.
Think of it this way - someone wants to help you (assume that they can and the offer is real) and now, it's up to you to give them an exciting mission to execute on your behalf...for your benefit! Of course, to do this, you must:
Know yourself. What do you want to do? How do you want to spend your time? What career is interesting to you? Deliberate on this and put the time in needed to come up with answers that fit you. Ask your closest peeps for help.
Know your audience. What does this person do? How does this fit into what you want to do? Try to understand their sphere of influence and ensure 'the ask' is within their abilities. If they can't help, maybe they know someone who can.
Have your ask in hand and then "ASK"...in a compelling way. Practice your ask, think about it, tweak it, and turn your ask into a story. If you're not sure what you want to do (many of us aren't, at first), then make it up and practice until you have something more tangible/real for you.
It's really that simple and that's why it's 101 - the basics. Once you can perfect the ask, and then make the ask -- it's likely that you'll be meeting with more and more people, many of which are willing to help you. Simultaneously, you'll be building a greater network, learning more about the private sector and moving closer to your destination. Keep practicing and you'll be on your way in no time!