Life has a way of throwing up challenges. Mine happened in my late teens. In the final year of my apprenticeship a nasty workplace accident forced me to rethink my career.
Fast forward to my early 30s, I’d been a furniture restorer, a furniture removalist, a bingo caller, a pedestrian accident researcher, a condom tycoon (for some reason that failed to impress my girlfriend's mother), a software engineer, and a lecturer and researcher in spatial science. I won jobs, sometimes due to my tenacity, but looking back, mostly through word of mouth.
In the 90s I started a consultancy and did spatial modelling for universities, the water industry, all levels of the Australian government and the UN. Magically, consulting work and now my employees came via word of mouth.
So, after 40 years as an employee and as a consultant, I’ve learnt that the secret sauce for getting work is relationships, especially professional relationships. These need not be insincere or manipulative. Opportunities naturally arise for those who make the effort. The trick to giving relationships their best chance of yielding work is to put yourself in the other person’s boots and empathize with their problems, their hopes and their dreams. Getting work becomes a simpler exercise when you’ve customized your offering to meet someone’s needs. And that idea is essentially what I'm on about.
I’m a teacher at heart. Now, in my 50’s, I can look back on my career as an employee looking for work, as a consultant winning work, and as an employer hiring and firing. The guidance I write was not around for me when I was starting out. In the absence of a mentor, I had to work it out for myself. And so here are some of my thoughts for you.