Jump07 Set up your meetings

Set Up Your Meetings


Today’s task is short and sweet but may be a bit challenging:  you are going to set up your January Jump meetings.

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Today’s Task

Set Up Your Meetings 

Let’s begin with a quick review of your Task List.   Hopefully you have made a neatly prioritised list of all the tasks that will help you to achieve your overall January Jump goals.

If you skipped over these earlier steps, or didn’t compete them in full, please go back now to Task 2: Set Your Goals and Task 3: Plan Your Steps: Task List.

During Task 3, when you created your Task List, I encouraged you to think about meeting people to help you complete your tasks.   A few examples I mentioned were:

– meeting with your manager to understand your development needs
– meeting with past colleagues
– meeting with current colleagues or industry friends
– meeting with people in your target industry/job

Today I would like you to get the ball rolling on these meetings by emailing two or three of the people at the top of your Task List.  Your aim is to set up a short phone call or coffee meeting with them before the end of January.

Why Are Meetings Important?

Meetings are important because they can help you in several ways:

If you have had a career break, a catch up meeting with an ex-colleague or two can help you remember some of the details of your old role, and you will soon have all the keywords and project names back on the tip of your tongue. Whether you want to return to your old career or not, this information will be useful for updating your CV, for sounding current, and having detailed examples to share at interviews.

You may also learn what other ex-colleagues are doing, whether they are still with your previous employer or have moved on to other positions.  This might give you some fresh ideas about different roles or employers that you too could consider.

If you are looking to change careers, a meeting with someone in your target industry can help you to understand more about the industry, the types of roles available, the current trends or issues with the industry, and more.

If you would like to step up in your career, a meeting with your manager (or manager’s manager) can help you understand what opportunities might be available now and in the future.  They might also clarify the skills and/or experience you need to be able to demonstrate to ensure you are best-placed when any promotion opportunities do arise.

A meeting with people at your level or the next level up in similar organisations can help build your industry-wide network.

Meetings can also help you to find your next job faster.  They can give you access to the 85% of jobs that are filled via informal networks and never get advertised.  But this is not achieved by asking for a job or giving someone else the obligation to find you a job.  That is not ‘cool’ and no one wants that burden.  It also becomes very binary, forcing a ‘yes/no’ decision before someone decides whether to meet you:  “Do I have a job I can offer you now?” The answer is most likely to be “No”.

It’s much more effective to take a subtler approach. If you meet someone, they might know of opportunities in their broader network but, often more importantly, they can steer you towards other people who are relevant for you.  So when you are finishing any call or meeting, be sure to ask: “Can you suggest anyone else I should talk to about this?”

Meeting Invitation Rules

Emailing people can be somewhat daunting, especially if they are people you don’t already know.

Here are some rules that will help you to structure your email:

1.  Take a few minutes to find the person’s direct email address.  You may already have it, or you may be able to guess it from their company’s standard email address format.

2.  Keep your email to a maximum of three or four sentences in total.  I know, it’s tough! But a brief email is easy for someone to read (and respond to) quickly, and hence is more likely to get a response.

3.  Do not introduce yourself beyond mentioning any connection you may have with the person you are emailing.

4.  Keep the focus on the other person.  This is a meeting for you to gather information from them, and it is not about “selling yourself”.  Do explain what you hope to learn from the meeting, and why you are contacting them specifically. Do not set out your life history or career background, and do not ask for a job or attach a CV.

5.  Give the person two options: a quick chat on the phone or a brief coffee meeting. It is a good idea to provide some indication of when you might be available for a meeting (“I am usually near your offices on Wednesday and Friday mornings”, “I can meet in town any day from 9.30am, except Fridays”) because this can take several steps out of the ‘back and forth’ messages to arrange a meeting.

6.  If you don’t get a response to your email, wait a few days and follow up casually.  We are all busy and it is entirely possible that someone missed your email in a busy inbox, or scanned it and forgot to come back to it.   If they don’t respond after your follow up message, then you can try again a week later but they are not likely to respond at all.  In this case, I would suggest you move on to the next person your Task List.

That’s it.  Sounds easy, right?  While it may not be easy, it is well worth doing.  Meeting people is probably the single most important thing you can do to help your career.  So please do persevere.


The Most Asked Question

When I am coaching people and we talk about meetings, they usually seem incredulous that someone who didn’t already know them would agree to meet with them.

“Won’t they think I’m a nutter, emailing them out of the blue?”
“What’s in it for them?”

But then I flip the situation, and ask “how would you feel if someone asked you for a quick phone call or brief coffee meeting to hear about your experiences, or to ask for your insights into something?”  Wouldn’t you be flattered? It is nice to be asked.

If someone doesn’t have the time or inclination to get involved, they can ignore the email. But many people will be happy to have been asked, and will be pleased spend a few minutes helping another person.  Just don’t ask them for a job!


Good luck with your email writing!  Look forward to hearing how you get on.

Still to come in the January Jump..  tomorrow we’re making sure your social media isn’t tripping you up!

Find out more about the January Jump, and catch up on previous tasks, on the January Jump homepage

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