You know already how important networking is to your career success, right? So, I’m not going to drone on about how most jobs aren’t advertised, or how networking well means you may never have to formally job search again (not to mention the salary perks when it comes time to negotiate!). Related: 10 Common Networking Mistakes To Avoid There’s a lot of ways to do networking wrong, but one MAJOR mistake you may be making that can trump all the others.
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Do you love TV? Me too. Full disclosure: I have a Downton Abbey obsession that is responsible for many lost hours. Viva the Dowager! I've also shamelessly binge-watched Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Friends, and - in very low moments, The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Yes...you can judge me. :) Related: 2 Odd Job Search Problems That Happen In January So, I understand how easy it is to sit on the couch, turn on the TV, and end up there for far longer than you had planned. It happens to all of us. But...maybe it's time to draw the line. As a career coach, I talk to many people about their struggles with work, and a few things come up again and again. The surprising thing: Some of the problems they experience (and you might too), start with that little box under your TV.
Have you ever put off doing something important for your career? Something that could hurt your job search? Related: 2 Odd Job Search Problems That Happen In January Like updating that resume, or reaching out to one of your networking contacts? Ugh. Procrastination. It causes so many problems.
Getting back in the grind after the holidays is the worst, isn't it? Related: 5 Mindset Shifts Necessary For Career Success Boredom when you think about work. Dread as you wake up in the morning. Feeling like THIS year you need to do something different. It's probably time to get a new job, no? But here's the problem: Most people who make sweeping resolutions that “THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE DREAM JOB, SERIOUSLY. YES. I MEAN IT" never end up changing anything. Sadly, they stay stuck exactly where they are now.
Building strong connections with real (currently employed) people.You may call this networking, but I think it’s more than that. A lot of us view networking as a numbers game - how many people can I meet at an event and how many business cards can I hand out? This generic view of networking has a flaw: There isn’t an emphasis on quality, just on quantity. But I’d argue that the quality of your network will have a lasting impact on your career success (and salary) from Day 1- Day 100,000. So, given that, it’s really REALLY important.
Why this mattersThink about your life so far - how have you gotten things? Most likely, because someone helped you. They point you in the right direction, they introduce you to a group or an idea, they advocate for you, or they help you with an essay or a question. This practice will continue to be true for you in your career. Hearing about job openings, getting referrals, having someone advocating for your promotion, getting salary and benefits insight before you negotiate, all of this comes from your strong connections. Good connections matter.
Find two kinds of peopleTo reap all of this success, you want to build strong connections with two different kinds of people: 1) someone who wants to be in a similar space as you, and 2) someone who's already in it. The first person is someone who wants to have a similar career path to you. Maybe it’s in consulting or medicine, maybe it’s something else. Regardless, make an agreement with them to be full-on career co-conspirators. You’ll share information about your jobs, about your salaries, about your benefits and working environments. That way, you’ll have a great leg up in salary negotiations, insight into different companies, and someone to commiserate with and share learnings with as you both progress. This will put you ahead of the curve (and the paycheck!). The second group (this will be many people actually), are folks who are in places you want to be. Whether that is a specific job or a specific company, befriend people who are employed and have wisdom and insight to offer, and learn from them. Take them out for coffee and pick their brains (don’t worry, most of them will end up buying the coffee for you, but it’s still nice to offer), and really get to know them. Often, a simple email introduction and easy request (“I love what you do, specifically XYZ. You seem to have a lot to offer and I would love to beg 20 minutes of your time to learn from you over a coffee. Would that be possible?”). Once you have their focus, ask questions like...
- “What do you love about your job?”
- “What challenges do you have?”
- “What do you wish you had known?”
- “What skills are required?”
- “What advice do you have for someone just starting out?”
To startMake a list of five people (use LinkedIn or your college Alumni network), that you want to connect with and the reason why. Research them and then reach out for coffee. And... Find your career co-conspirator and start sharing secrets. The great news? If you use a little flattery and really take the time, about 80% of people you contact (even cold) will say yes. Seriously, you will get far more people saying “yes”than “no.”I promise! In the comments, please share some of your networking secrets - what’s worked well for you and why? I’d love to hear. And, if you’re not sure where to begin because you don’t know what you want to do with yourself? Get my six simple steps to finding work you love right here, it’s free!
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Feeling stuck in your job is pretty common. What’s even more common? Not knowing where to go next. It’s hard to figure out where to start (and everyone has advice!). Related: 4 Things Not To Do When Trying To Find Your Passion It’s often draining, overwhelming, or frustrating because you feel like you should know. You should have an idea, or a direction, or just an inkling of what’s next (any inkling!). So, you ask yourself a bunch of questions, take some assessments, and end up even more stuck. But there’s hope! One easy way to begin is with your vision. And not a standard “check the company box for 2014 under skills development” type of career vision, but a real vision that means something to you. (You know, something that you care about, versus whatever you just told your boss).
There are times when you are minding your own business, doing an activity that you love, and someone says to you, “You should do that full-time! You are great at it!” Gardening, yoga, writing… whatever. You have ideas and dreams, but when you sit down and think about actually trying to do it full-time, you wonder, “Maybe this is just a hobby?” Related: 4 Things Not To Do When Trying To Find Your Passion
There’s a lot of talk out there about how to find your passion (full disclosure: I’m doing a lot of it!), which is all well and good. But what about the stuff that is getting in the way of YOU finding that very same passion? What if some of what you are doing now is actually preventing you from finding it? Here are four things NOT to do when trying to find your passion: