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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Experience, please

You would think that, at 56, I'm beyond the age where this expression applies: "You need experience to be given a chance, but no one will give me a chance to get experience."

This is the classic refrain of new start-ups, and young people seeking employment.

In fact, in most cases, there is good reason for this "experience required" rule, and in most cases (mine included), there is a way around the "give me a chance to get experience."

It turns out I lost an opportunity to develop and present a White Paper for the SMPS Foundation because I lack sufficient speaking and presentation experience. And the failure to pass on this ground (another key criteria is writing experience/ability, which I obviously succeeded at) is valid -- I simply haven't spoken much in public in my life, even though (at age 17), I was the youngest person ever to graduate from the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course.

At a meeting today, colleagues on the Ottawa Renovates! project related the importance of experience and references for success. We won the job over another person who made the initial proposal because of our practical and hands-on publishing experience. (I got around my inexperience in selling business-to-consumer magazine by calling on colleagues who truly know this area for assistance.)

"The other person -- who originally bid the job -- clearly didn't know what he was doing," said one of my colleagues. "He bid far too low and promised far too much, so much that anyone could see that he really didn't know what he was doing, and would not be able to complete his commitments."

We of course promised a lot, but delivered on our promises, in financial terms that made sense for everyone. Our clients knew from our references and presentation that we could deliver the goods.

So, what do you do when you lack experience and lose opportunities as a result?

I have two answers.

The first is to team up and joint venture with people with the relevant experience, like I did for Ottawa Renovates!

The second is to volunteer, and get out there and do things that are stepping stones to experience. So next year I'll add to my list of commitments to give at least five speeches/presentations. I'll do these to local groups or as part of webinars/joint venture projects with other experts on relevant topics.

1 comment:

Hal said...

Good points about joint ventures and volunteering. As true for those of us in your age bracket as for those just entering the job market.

But with access to the web, all of us can add one more answer to lack of experience: research.

With experience comes knowledge. And while "book learning" isn't a substitute for "hands on," it is certainly a valuable supplement.

Learning how to effectively use search engines can make accessing the knowledge gained from experience relatively quick and easy. There are advanced search techniques, and they are worth learning...to supplement experience, at whatever level.

Don
At a New Orleans Remodeling company.