Career Collective post: Once every month or so, a group of career professionals blog on a subject topical and timely for a job seeker. We’ll post our thoughts on our own blog and link to the post of our colleagues on the same topic.
This month’s topic: “Networking.” Responses from others contributors are linked at the end. Search the hashtag #CareerCollective on Twitter.
Networking. The mere mention of the word strikes terror in the hearts of even the most seasoned professionals. For some reason, the thought of connecting with fellow human beings has become more like something we have to do, instead of something that happens naturally. What used to be pleasant conversation and sharing morphed into to-do list entries and deadlines. We set specific dates and list relevant topics for planned contact. We make detail notes regarding outcome. We schedule the next contact. Whew. Sounds like work.
True. Everything works better with a plan. And there’s nothing wrong with contact management systems, especially when incorporated into a job search. But networks and connections aren’t just for job search. Get caught up in the busy-ness of business and life and risk missing important supports and resources. Isn’t networking another word for “staying in touch”? Focus on being a supportive friend and business associate. Share – ideas, training opportunities, business articles, hobby-related information, recipes, a quick hello – whatever may interest your contacts and watch your network grow. Stop fretting so much about the concept of networking and start cultivating relationships – a solid network sprouts from thoughtful, considerate contact.
Recently, two clients, independent of the other, shared networking stories with me. Both clients experienced the power a network they didn’t “intentionally” engage. First is Albert. Albert recently completed his master’s degree in psychology. He’s been considering different career paths ever since graduation. Albert remains, after all these years, connected to a childhood friend, Fred. While Albert and Fred now live in different states, they make time for occasional catch-up phone calls. During a recent call Albert mentioned his latest career options to his friend, as part of the overall update, not in a “help me find a job” context at all. Fred’s father has known Albert since childhood and always welcomes his son’s updates after a phone conversation with his old friend. Fred shared Albert’s most recent academic accomplishment. Fred’s dad said, “Gee, I was golfing with a friend the other day who can use someone with just that background …” Albert flew out for an interview this past Thursday.
Candice attended an industry conference a few months ago. She ran into a former colleague, Les. They’d touched base over the years, but it was nice to have a face-to-face opportunity to connect. They quickly shared life and career highlights and drifted back to conference sessions. Several months later, Candice’s phone rang. It was Les. Les had a conversation with another industry associate. That associated needed Candice’s skill set to launch a new program. Candice flew out last Tuesday to interview for the position.
Both clients enjoyed the conversation with old friends. Both conversations, inadvertently led to career opportunities. Both interviews came about because of a casual conversation. Neither position was advertised. Both positions were “perfect” for the respective client. Albert and Candice were the first, and hopefully only candidates, interviewed. They entered the interview knowing their contacts “pre-sold” their skill set giving them an unsolicited, enthusiastic endorsement. Both opportunities emerged because of an effort to stay in touch.
Absolutely, plan your work, work your plan, attend networking events, keep your online presence clean and up-to-date. That’s all important too. But don’t forget to sit back. Sip some lemonade on the porch with a neighbor. Email an old friend. Connect. You never know where you’ll find that next opportunity. There … doesn’t networking sound like a bit more fun?
Here’s what my colleagues have to say:
5 Little Secrets About Networking, @Careersherpa
Networking: Easy as 1, 2 , 3, @WorkWithIllness
How to Take the Intimidation Out of Networking, @heathermundell
Networking for the Shy and Introverted, @KatCareerGal
A tale of two networkers, @DawnBugni
Networking for Job Candidates Who Hate Networking, @heatherhuhman
Networking? Ugh! @resumeservice
Network, Network, Network, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
3 ways to make networking fun for introverts and extroverts, @Keppie_Careers
Grow Your Career Networking Seeds Organically, @ValueIntoWords
Networking: It’s a Way of Life, @WalterAkana
Social Media Networking & Your Career, @GayleHoward
Networking: Why who you know doesn’t count, @Chandlee
Networking for the Networking-Phobic, @JobHuntOrg