Monday, April 21, 2008

Turning Serendipity into Success

Over the weekend I finished reading Susan RoAne's book, How to Create Your Own Luck. It's full of examples of how following up on chance encounters can lead to new jobs, great customers, or even access to key medical doctors. As I was reading this, I remembered how when I lived in Caracas, these kinds of serendipitous events were frequently the topic of conversation; it was considered normal. So I had this idea that Caracas, a city whose inhabitants all swear is a super small world, even a hankerchief, was somehow different in this aspect. Reading RoAne's book has prompted me to think that chance encounters are important everywhere.

For example, on February 25 of this year I made a presentation to our local art museum board, because "by coincidence" I had seen their ad for an executive director. I did not get that job, but one board member owns an advertising company and we have worked together on a few projects since then. Or take my own job at the university. I got it when I called the husband of a friend to interview him to write an article on listening skills. That led to a major career change, and it's because of that job that I'm having so much fun writing a dissertation on Hugo Chavez. My sister got her last two wonderful jobs through contacts with her hairdresser.

I hate the term "networking" so I'm not going to use it. I can't bear to bring myself to think about talking to people just because they might be able to help me, and that is not what RoAne advocates (see Commandment #5). But I can talk to people knowing that it might brighten their day, and in any case help to pass our time together pleasantly.

Below is another extract from RoAne's book; her "The 10 Commandments for Turning Serendipity into Success" appears in the appendix.

1. Thou shalt pay attention and be open to opportunity.

2. Thou shalt be approachable; smile and make eye contact with others.

3. Thou shalt do good deeds; say kind words, as they are oft returned.

4. Thou shalt create a network of associates, colleagues, friends, family, and coworkers.

5. Thous shalt stay in touch with thy network when thou needest nothing from it.

6. Thou shalt be a supportive Yeah! Sayer.

7. Thou shalt not render prejudgments.

8. Thou shalt follow up the leads, ideas, and connections offered by thy network.

9. Thou shalt be positive and look at the glass as half full.

10. Thous shalt embraces these eight (counterintuitive) traits, the ones from Friday's post.

The most important thing, perhaps the requisite for meeting interesting people whom you can help and be helped by, is to make up your mind that you're going to do so. Sometimes, you start talking to someone, and that person is not very friendly. It doesn't happen very often, but ALWAYS, when someone is not nice, assume that person is having a bad day. That's an opportunity for you to show compassion, not get your own feelings hurt.

Send in your own ideas in a post to Contest ends April 30. You may win $50, and writing is good for you anyway!

Have a super Monday, I know I will.