Do you ever feel frustrated that you’re not getting the opportunities you think you should?

Well, that used to happen to me. For example, there would be some cool projects and “Wonder Boy” or “Wonder Girl” would get assigned to them again and not me.

Or, there would be a new role and I would read about it in the announcement memo. I wouldn’t even know it was open.

These situations were just soul-destroying to me, and it was this cycle of silent suffering because I’d be thinking, “Oh, please pick me, pick me!”, I would be disappointed and then I would console myself by saying, “Well, I didn’t really want that anyway”, when of course I really did want that!

Sometimes you can’t do anything. But what I’ve discovered over the years is, most of the time, there are things you can do to put yourself out there in front of opportunities.

This was illustrated to me this morning when my husband, who is a basketball coach, was talking to some of his players. They were talking about how frustrating it can be as a player when people don’t pass you the ball.

One of the girls said, “Well, if you don’t work to get open then I am not going to pass you the ball. Every player should have different ways of getting open.”

I thought: this applies off the basketball court as well. It applies to all of us in our careers, in our work.

That’s why I want to share with you five ways you can get open for opportunities.

1. Tell them you want the ball

When there is an opportunity, throw your hat in the ring. You don’t have to wait to be asked.

So it might sound something like this: “Hey, I’d like to be considered for this role. Here is why I think I’m a good fit.”

2. Ask for advice

This is more subtle than the first strategy and it works when there is not an open opportunity out there.

So, you can go to someone senior and say, “I’d love to get your advice on how I can get in a position to be able to run a global group one day” and then you’ll learn all kinds of things from them.

3. Pick yourself

I love this. How energizing! What I mean is, you can’t pick yourself for a formal opportunity that someone else has the option to hand out, but you can pick yourself for an opportunity to show the same capabilities that it would take to do that thing that you want to do in the future.

For example, if you wanted to show that you can lead a team, but you don’t have an opportunity to do that right now, then you can go out and lead an effort in the charity sphere. Or lead an effort in the recruiting arena or in diversity in some of the networks.

So go out there and create a project and pick yourself to lead it.

4. Do the work

When I say, “Do the work”, what I mean is, using the basketball context, if you want somebody to pass you the ball then it really helps if they feel confident that, when you get the ball, you’re going to be able to score; you’re going to be able to convert that.

So in basketball, you’d be at practice every day. Get 500 baskets in. Maybe even 1000. Then people will see that you’re doing that and feel confident to pass you the ball, or give you that opportunity in the work context more readily.

5. Learn from others

Identify one or two people who are really good at this, people who seem to be finding those opportunities regularly, and observe what they do.

What is it about them, their actions and mindset that gets them those opportunities?

In fact, take them out for a coffee, interview them. People love talking about their successes. Ask them, “How did you get all of those great opportunities in your career?”

Be proactive to gain more exposure and visibility

So those are just five things you can do to put yourself out there and get open for opportunities.

When you’re feeling frustrated about not having enough opportunities, I want you to go out there and do one of these things, do two of these things, do all of these things! But the most important thing is go and do something.

Don’t do what I did, which is that cycle of silent suffering.

Go and be proactive. Take action. You’re going to feel more confident. It’s also going to give you more exposure and visibility, and good things will come your way.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What have you done that has helped you get in front of opportunities, and get open for opportunities?

Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your stories.