If you are employed then chances are you applied for a job and were the fortunate applicant to get it. If you own a business then you've probably responded to an open call for proposals (sometimes called a request for proposal - RFP). Congrats if you've won a few (you should also buy a lottery ticket).
To uncover your next job or customer do neither.
Think about it. When someone posts a job or tender/proposal online they are implicitly saying 'we don't know anyone that can provide us with this product/service. We are screaming at the top of our lungs for help.' Now, think about how often you scream like that looking for help buying stuff. Do you wear a shirt to the mall that says 'I'm looking for red shoes?' Do you go online and type "I-want-to-eat-a-good-burger-5minutes-from-here.com/index.html?' People scream for help when they are desperate and need immediate help. You'll ask a friend, get a cab or rent a car before hitchhiking.
Businesses are the same. They pragmatically look for people, products and services within their existing resources and network first before asking a stranger for help. New customers and employment opportunities abound if you uncover them before they are advertised.
Do this instead:
1 - Offer to help - Find out who your potential boss/customer is, explain specific issues you see and how you'd remedy them. Describe a solution to a problem they may not know about and offer a solution to fix it. People love problem solvers. Your potential boss/customer is the person responsible for the function you want to work in (eg; finance, HR, marketing, operations, sales etc). Be creative in how you approach this. If your goal is to work in Nike's golf marketing department then you better have some material that explains how you'd generate exposure for that category or outline an issue you see. Some examples of material could be a video you put together, sample marketing campaign or whitepaper aimed at the problem you are solving. Then, find that person on LinkedIn (more on that below) and send them your solution. Thousands apply for jobs listed on Nike's job board...few will get the opportunity to solve problems.
2 - Inform - Sometimes businesses get trapped in their day-to-day activities to think outside the box and adjust the status quo. Your advantage is that you can advise without duress. Show enthusiasm, concern and ownership by making recommendations without compensation. Inform them about something they don't know or you don't see them doing. Let's say XYZ Company has an accountant job posted and you run an accounting firm. Find the name of XYZ Company's manager and creatively communicate why they should hire your firm instead of an accountant. Also inform them on any new opportunities where they can save money. Here is how you get a response.
With digital marketing these strategies are easier than ever to implement. A Premium LinkedIn account allows you to communicate directly with any LinkedIn user (usually CEOs and senior management at the world's largest companies).
Think outside the box to get in it.
About the Author:
Sajeel Qureshi is the VP of Operations at Computan, a digital marketing and software company. Computan serves as the digital department for numerous businesses throughout the globe ranging from start-ups to multinationals.
He has a degree in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and MBA from Eastern Illinois University. Sajeel plays tennis well enough to convince the untrained eye that he knows what he is doing and poor enough that the trained eye submits him to a drug test.