Thursday, July 17, 2008

Network when you don't need to

Act before there is a problem.
Bring order before there is disorder.

Tao te Ching, #27

I had coffee with a former colleague this week. He was looking for a new job, his company having closed its local office. My colleague was confessing his dread of networking. He knew he needed to do it, but it just wasn't pleasant for him.

Also this week, I got an email from another former colleague, who wrote, "Love to catch up. I am out on the street looking for my next position."

Both of these folks are senior people, corporate vice-presidents, who find themselves in the humbling position of contacting people in order to locate their next jobs. They have to network, because their next job depends on it. No wonder it's a burden.

I have been in their position. When I started out on my own, the timing was not planned. Suddenly, I no longer had my prior position, and I needed to find work. I called, I emailed. I touched base. Neediness oozed from my pores. No wonder it took a long while to get a paying gig.

A significant event was stumbling across the book "Never Eat Alone." Reading it helped at my mindset and my approach. It reinforced the importance of a network, why people work with people they know, and why people want to help others they know.

"Never Eat Alone" remains the best book on networking I've read. And the biggest lesson to me was to network because it's fun and exciting to keep in touch with people. Not because you need something. The stronger a network you have, the more you contribute to it, the more opportunities will come out of it.

And, paradoxically, the less you will have turn to it out of desperation.

Related posts:
On "Never Eat Alone"
Networking: burden or pleasure?
The power of "weak ties"
"Weak Ties" #2
A personal relationship makes all the difference

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