I had a conversation the other day that reminded me of a blog post I had meant to write a while back.
When I found myself back in the job market, I realised that I had done nothing to prepare for what amounts to the inevitability of change. I had not written a CV in 13 years, had not spoken to recruiters outside of the hiring process (for my team), and hadn’t interviewed once. In almost 13 years, not once…
Quite a bit has changed in 13 years. For a start, I’m considerably balder, and fatter, but on the plus side I am also considerably more experienced. However, that experience – like luck – can be good OR bad, and it’s put into context one way or another by those you’ve met along the way. It’s what others think and say about you that makes all the difference, and they are connected as never before, which means a bad reputation can travel far and wide …quickly.
You could have the most polished CV on the planet, a Linkedin profile second to none, and may even have a blog [cough], but if potential employers ask around (which they will) and get nothing but red flags, you are already at a disadvantage. Everyone you meet at work has the ability to help or hurt you down the road, just as you do to them. This is a power that should never be taken lightly, or abused.
I now see my connections as a safety net that I didn’t know I had. They rallied around me, called, emailed, laughed, gave glowing references, but above all, they reached out to THEIR contacts and passed the word.
It was not long before I was having conversations with people of whom I had never heard, but now count in my corner. Most of these conversations didn’t lead to anything related to employment, but that’s OK, I now have a bunch more people to whom I can turn for guidance or advice in specific areas. Or even better, if THEY need anything, they know they can now ask me. Our skill-sets are shared, and we no longer have to know the answer to everything, because we know someone who does. That’s how it works; Ask.
However, this is not about what they can do for you. By all means ask for help when you need it, but if this is not mutual, it simply does not work. If you don’t care about the others in your circle, your connections will not last long.
There are a thousand books on networking out there, and you don’t have to be an extravert to do it. By nature I’m introverted, and derive my strength and sustenance from internal resources, but this does not stop me from being genuinely interested in others, just in small doses, and very select people 🙂
If there’s one accomplishment of which I am proud after ~13 at the same company, it’s to whom I still talk now, from both sides of the old fences.
So to my circle, I say thank you very much for everything.
How can I help you?