Question: What’s Luck Got to Do with Career Success?
But that’s not the whole story. Carl Richards’ 1/9 NYT article about acknowledging luck in career success leaves out a critical variable in the success equation. Some believe luck is just that—lucky. Others think that luck is skill, sweat and tears; labeling the resulting success anything but diminishes their hard work. While I empathize with this concern, it’s moot if you think about how the lucky get lucky.
Richards interviews his friend, the author of multiple best selling books, who attributes his best seller success to a lucky introduction to a friend of a friend of a great book agent. I like the author’s humility, a character trait that plays a crucial role in career success; however, he omits a critical part of his “lucky” backstory. What did the author say to the friend of a friend that secured the introduction to the great book agent?
The content of that face-to-face conversation is not dumb luck. It’s a specific conversational talent that leverages intentional smart luck.
Every person whom you meet presents an opportunity to expand your network and connect to others who can influence your luck. Smart luck is maximizing those encounters.
I recommend using these 5 steps to knocking on smart luck’s door.
- Tell everyone you meet your goal, e.g., “I’m writing a book and looking for an agent.”
- Ask, “Do you know anyone who is a literary agent or might know one?”
- If that person does, ask him to introduce you.
- Respectfully ask for the person’s contact information to follow up with him or her and enter it right there into your phone.
- Follow up with your new contact the next day, reminding him or her to make the introduction. For example, “Hi John, it’s Elaine Rosenblum. Last night you mentioned that you would introduce me to your book agent contact. Below is my vCard. I’d be grateful if you would please CC me on your text or email so I can follow up directly with your contact. Thanks again for your willingness to help and let me know if I can return the favor. Best, Elaine.”
Luck does not just happen to people, people make luck happen…and it all starts with a conversation.