A few years ago, one of my Schulich School of Business MBA students asked if I'd review her resume and provide her with some feedback. She knew of my extensive experience working with top-tier brand companies and thought I might be able to give her some good advice on how to get the attention of one... so she was brave enough to ask me for some help.
To be clear, this is not part of my formal job description as an Instructor. But I agreed to help because I like to help when I can. Plus, she was brave enough to ask for help, and I believe bravery should be rewarded.
During our conversation, I learned my student really wanted to join a great consumer packaged goods company in a marketing capacity, and what she felt were her strengths. Her greatest challenge was that she didn't have a lot of marketing experience (let alone CPG marketing experience), and it's always tough to get that big break in your career; to convince someone to give you a chance so you can show what you can really do, despite not being the ideal candidate "on paper".
I knew this woman was smart because I marked the assignments she submitted for my class. But more importantly, I knew she was the type of person who asked good questions, fully engaged with her environment, and respectfully challenged ideas with which she didn't agree. She didn't have a lot of marketing experience, but she had the right attitude: she was exactly the type of person I'd be happy to hire myself if I was looking for someone on my team, and I would be happy to recommend her to my network.
As it happens, I was browsing LinkedIn a few days later and noticed a post from a friend working as a Marketing Director for a respected CPG company... who was looking to hire a strong Assistant Brand Manager.
It didn't take me long to send my friend an email about my student, and ask if I could connect the two. My friend, knowing I don't refer people carelessly, enthusiastically agreed.
I know they connected. I don't know if my student ended up getting hired. But even if she didn't, being connected with an experienced industry professional and added an amazing person to her professional network is a pretty great outcome, right?
Two months ago, I took my own advice and asked for some help in getting Disney's attention for what would be a dream job for me.
The response was incredible. To date, the post I shared on LinkedIn has generated more than 47,000 views, 600 engagements, and 100 comments. It's also been reshared 26 times, helping to fuel the number of people who have seen it in a virtuous cycle. My website (including the page where the report can be found) has been visited thousands of times since my post; that's more traffic in the last two months than it's seen in the last year. By a lot.
People I didn't know before the post reached out to me and offered to introduce me to people I knew at Disney; those offers resulted in two great conversations and two new Disney connections.
One person I didn't previously know saw my post and sent me a message on LinkedIn; he told me the Disney recruiter for this role had approached him about it, but he had felt it was too senior for him... so he offered to introduce me to the recruiter. And then he did, and I was able to send her my application directly.
Several people I knew (and a few I didn't) saw my post and tagged a certain individual who was well-known in the Canadian agency world before accepting a very senior role in the US... with Disney. She replied to one of the tags... and graciously invited me to message her so we could set up some time to chat. That conversation happened earlier this week, and she was generous with her time, advice, and offer to connect me to one of her colleagues in order to further expand my Disney network.
I have no expectations that any of these conversations will lead to a role with Disney, either now or in the future.
But even if it doesn't, being connected with experienced industry professionals and adding amazing people to my professional network is a pretty great outcome, right?
Wayne Gretzky said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
So never be afraid to ask for help. You never know what might happen.