You’re Welcome for Asking

One year back in high school, my math teacher called my parents to discuss my disruptive behavior. According to Joe-Math-Teacher, I asked too many questions when trying to understand new lessons. Fortunately, my Mom defended my inquisitive nature; rather than discourage me from asking questions in class, she signed me up for a summer journalism course at a nearby college!

Questionable Discovery

Although my math career was stifled and journalism wasn’t quite the right fit, my knack for asking questions has been a fundamental element in propelling my TechComm career.

Technical Writing is often a problem-solving process:

  • Who needs information or what does the user already know?
  • Where is the user along their journey or when will they need this information?
  • Why does the user encounter this question or issue?

The delight when I discover a miscommunicated detail or unexpected dependency is like a treasure hunt, and asking the right question to the right person is the only way to get the next clue!

Practice Makes Progress

Beyond information gathering, the practice of asking the right questions is crucial for professional development, process improvement, and deliverable optimization.

For example:

  • Find Opportunity – Seeking to be helpful is a driving force behind many of my career advancements. What’s needed that I can do or learn to do?
  • Uncover Assumptions – Journey mapping and process reengineering specifically require you to consider assumptions. Is there another way to accomplish the goal? What is a different benchmark we could strive for?
  • Prioritize Requirements – Determining the minimal viable product (MVP) for faster delivery or understanding success factors are essential to keep a project focused on outcomes. What are the objectives and key results needed?

What have you asked lately that’s led to positive results or progress?

How to get a job via LinkedIn

I landed my last 2 jobs via LinkedIn without even trying.

Spoiler Alert: When I say I landed these jobs “without even trying” – I mean that I wasn’t directly job hunting when these opportunities landed in my LinkedIn inbox. This process still takes effort 🙂

 

Step One – Pack your patience

This is a long game, or at least it was for my last two moves:

  • The first one happened because a recruiter found me and set up a call with the hiring manager, who I clicked with. That position was filled internally (heard that one before?), but a year later when another position opened, I was the first person she reached out to and I landed the job.
  • The second time, over a year later, another direct message on LinkedIn turned into another positive job change. This position description was never even posted online, but I was in the right place at the right time on LinkedIn.

 

How do you show up in the right place at the right time on LinkedIn? See Step Two.

 

Step Two – Do all the things

Or at least, always be doing some of the things. Even if you’re not job hunting right now. What things?

Optimize your LinkedIn profile

At least once per quarter, do a refresh to add your latest accomplishments and new key words. Learn how to consider profile SEO and prepare your profile for a job huntThe recruiter I mentioned above found me based on new key words I had just added to my profile.

Watch webinars

They are free and full of valuable info about new tools, strategies, lingo, and resources. They are also a great way to expand your network with the right people … “Hi Ms. Expert, I just watched your webinar on XYZ and I’d love to connect.” Here’s a list of free Webinars for Technical Communicators or Google [your industry] + webinar. Pro tip: If a live webinar is scheduled for a time you can’t attend, still register and you’ll likely get a link to the recording.

Network with your local professional community

I joined the leadership team of a professional chapter for my industry. If you don’t have time for that, attend events when you can. Meetup is a great place to find local events for your industry. Learn the names of people and companies to follow and then engage with them on LinkedIn.

Post, write articles, comment

Have something to say about what you do. Contribute to discussions your network is starting in their posts and articles, and they’ll be more likely to return that engagement. My most recent opportunity happened because the right person saw a relevant article I had just published on LinkedIn. You don’t need to be an Influencer to write an article that gets noticed.

 

Don’t be complacent if you’re in a good spot now. Your network and credibility is something to build over time, not switch on for a quick return after a missed promotion or unexpected layoff.

 

Recommended Reading: Jeff Goins wrote an excellent piece on Medium – “We assume great careers happen because one extraordinary person makes a big bet that pays off. That’s not how it actually works most of the time.