We all think we can get our next big assignment through hard work, a great resume and an uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. This is not necessarily true. You may have an ivy-league pedigree or are a rock star in your profession, but it’s not always about how much you know but more about who you know that might land you your next job. Serendipity is defined as a “fortunate happenstance” but really knowing the right people and showing up at the right time is all it could take to land you your next assignment.
One thing that frustrates me in speaking with many college grads or people who have a few years under their belt is that nowhere in their brief educational or professional experience has anyone drilled in the concept of “networking!” Oh sure there is LinkedIn for that and to some extent Facebook and of course Alumni Associations that provide good ways to network but what does all of that really do for you when you are pounding the keyboards applying for every job under the Job Board sky?
Nothing. You will NOT get your next job if all you do is focus on is hitting enter on the keyboard waiting for the Job Board Universe to respond. You have to work it. What do I mean by working it? Well, it’s not enough to have a great group of friends and colleagues you can go out after work with – you have to know who and when to ask for help. Yes, that’s right you have to ask for the job you want. I’m not suggesting you beg and plead your way to your next job interview but your friends and professional colleagues are not mind readers, if you don’t ask no one will figure out what you are looking to do.
When it comes to building your network it is much like six degrees of separation. Social Media sets a good example of this. Building your network means not just asking the people you know but asking the people you know who may know someone else in a company or position who might be able to help you. Most people stop at the first level of introduction. If you don’t move to the next level and the level after that and ask for introduction to the job or company you want you will never navigate the career landscape successfully.
Yes it’s important to be skilled in your profession and experience does get you so far. But even the most experienced person in a given field won’t move to the next level of career engagement if they don’t know how to ask for and receive an introduction, an offer or a meeting. It’s not enough to be smart. How you work your network will get you much further than the 14 degrees you hold. First things first when you begin your career search, make a list and check it twice, three times, four times and so on. Someone on there knows someone else that you’ve been dying to meet. Don’t be shy. Don’t think it’s inappropriate to ask for an introduction. Just do it and see how far your connections will lead.
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