As you may recall, I first began networking intentionally when I was going through career transition. Mine was not a unique situation. In fact, that’s when many people begin their networking efforts.
Whether career change is self-selected or foisted on you, one harsh reality that I haven’t often addressed is this is tough stuff. While looking for a new job… or, even more importantly, a new career, can have its exciting, eye-opening, fascinating,… even exhilarating moments, the time can also be burdened with uncertainty and disappointment and emotional baggage. Sometimes, the last thing someone wants to do is get out there and network.
The challenge is to steel oneself for those off moments and remember that by making a true commitment to spending regular, dedicated time networking every day, opportunities will present themselves – professional and civic and social opportunities – that are unimaginable in the planning stages of one’s efforts. You have to engage in order to be able to avail yourself of the opportunities when they make themselves available to you.
So here’s the deal, you will have your moments. Everyone does. There will be good days… bad days… but the good days always trump the bad. Here are a few tips for ensuring that to be the case…
Attitude. Though times are tough, make the conscious decision that that you are a great networker! Expect to have fun. Expect great things to happen. Expect to build enduring, mutually beneficial, long-term relationships as a result of your efforts. Though the idea of networking can be daunting, the rewards that you will reap from the experience will pay dividends for years to come. By reaching out to others, by always saying, “YES!” and by helping others, you will build a solid professional network that will lead to endless goodness down the line.
Get started and maintain the right attitude. We are all programmed with certain “recordings” in our brain. Listen to the positive ones; don’t dwell on the negative ones. If the negative ones are all that you are listening to, considering writing down (yes, literally!) your own positive recording to speak out and memorize – and with which to replace the negative ones!
Patience. Though they say that patience is a virtue; truth told, it is not one I possess. I am naturally impatient and it is a double edged sword. On the one hand, my impatience helps to ensure that I get things done; on the other, things take time to marinate, to come together, to progress the way they should. So, if you commit to networking everyday with the expectation only of building relationships, the relationship that you created on, say, day 1, may pay off in a big way on day 263! You just never know what may come from the connections you are generating at this moment! So, be impatient about connecting with others, but patient when it comes to what fruit that relationship will bear.
Make your own sunshine. But, don’t go it alone. This idea comes from a lovely woman who I recently came to know through networking, Anna Finigan. Anna shared this story:
“Growing up my mom always told me, ‘Anna, you have to make yourself happy. No one will do it for you.’ This advice taught me to recognize the difference between being alone versus lonely; to seek out and pursue the things in life that bring meaning and joy; and to celebrate the small wins even when faced with defeat. I’ve cherished this advice all my life.
She went on to tell me about a time when she queried a friend and fellow job seeker about how his search was going, he replied, “Anna, I’m making my own sunshine today”. What a great sentiment! It reminds us that, in fact, job seeking is tough. It can be lonely, defeating and downright dismal. Resumes go out and you never hear back. An occasional form email from HR brings closure, it may not bring good news, BUT….” But, wow, there are those amazing moments when great things happen. And what fun to be able to share these highs… and even the lows with trusted others. Anna says,
“As humans, we need connections with one another to keep us going during the rise and fall of such journeys. And while it is important to be resourceful and make your own happiness, I also believe we need others to support us and help us ‘make our own sunshine!”
I love this. In fact, “don’t go it alone” is advice I always give to entrepreneurs. Good to be reminded that it is equally important for job seekers, too.
Those are just a few ideas for keeping your chin up when the going gets tough during job hunting. What ideas do you have? Please share. Whether job hunting, or simply trying to connect with others, we could all use a few good pointers about maximizing our networking efforts.