When changing jobs or moving in a different career direction or successfully navigating a job redundancy, there is one key element that will have you survive and thrive in the process. It’s called…”Networking!”. Yes, that dreaded word that all introverts and many job seekers the world over fear. Over many years I have personally experienced this phenomenon and observed its success in my career transition clients. There is no escaping the power of this secret weapon.
Give yourself a moment to recover your composure and take a breath. Okay…I do understand the fear many people associate with the thought of Networking. I have been there too. What I can now say, with conviction, is that the avoidance of it can be career suicide or, at the very least, stagnation. I have seen many smart, skilled people flounder in their career due to an avoidance of Networking.
So here is what I recommend: Call it something different! Simples!
I call it “research and relationship building“. What do you do when you want to find information and ask questions? = Research. What do you do when you want to find out more about someone, what they do and what is important to them? = Relationship/Rapport building.
Career Networking activity is NOT a one way activity. This is why it is imperative that it be undertaken regularly and not just when you are unemployed, desperately looking for a job. The beautiful and amazing thing about professional relationship building (you could call it that too if you prefer) is this:
Amazing things start to happen when people are in conversation. Possibilities unfold, opportunities arise and new inspiring people enter our life when we connect and engage in the art and science of communication. Ideas spark, synergies align and energy flows. I have experienced first hand and witnessed in the results of others, what can transpire. I have witnessed career changes from accountant to theatre technician, from IT technician to massage therapist. These would not have happened without research and inspiring conversations.
We rarely achieve professional success on our own. The people we come into contact with can inspire and motivate us to act when we would otherwise just keep doing the same old thing, because its comfortable. Often, the different perspective and experiences of another can provide a view point or piece of information to spark an idea or new direction that we may never have considered otherwise. In addition to this, they may be ideally placed to have influence in securing a job interview where our resume alone may not get us short-listed. A connection may smooth the way with others to answer a query about a change in career path or enter a role doing something quite different. In my experience, networking is the best way, if not the only way, to change career direction, as it involves a certain amount of faith and trust in you by others, that can often only be developed from knowing you first.
Make connecting a Win:Win exchange. Even if you do find yourself in the position of needing a job, think what you could do for others? You don’t want to get a reputation as a user. That type of relationship is often short-lived and doesn’t end well.
So from now on I encourage you to make ‘Networking’, or whatever you choose to call it, your companion to career success. As the saying goes, don’t wait until you are thirsty to dig a well. Develop and maintain relationships as a continuing part of your professional activity, not just when you need a job and there will be no fear of picking up the phone for a chat or when arranging to meet for a cuppa. It will just be something normal for you and an authentic part of your personal brand values and behaviour.