Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Houston: My Net Isn't Working
Aside from the frustration experienced by job seekers from what feels like the "black hole" in responding to postings on job boards (and there is enough on that subject to provide fodder for posts for the next year!) the next major pain point often seems to be around the dreaded word for anyone in transition: networking.
Yes, they have read the stats be they from our own Executive Job Market Intelligence Report or a zillion other sources all of which report that at the executive level somewhere between 50% and 80% of the time, networking is what made it happen. Our own experience has been consistently at the 70% level which is one of the reasons we invest so much time and energy to provide our members with the ways and means to expand their personal and professional networks both on and offline.
[And BTW, ExecuNet networking meetings around the country and in Canada are open to anyone, be they a member of ExecuNet or not].
In any case, armed with all this overwhelming data, why is it that I continually hear from people who say to me, "Well, this networking stuff may work for someone else, but it sure as heck isn't working for me."
After talking with such a person for a while, it usually becomes pretty clear pretty fast that they are still on a learning curve when it comes to really understanding what networking is. They are still at the stage where they think that networking is a noun.
In their mind networking is a "thing." They haven't quite gotten the message that really effective networking isn't a program ~ it's a process. Said another way, networking isn't a formula that you plug in and a job falls out at the other end. What is it? Short version: It's a process of building a relationship.
As you might guess when I say that, heads nod in agreement, but when we talk further it becomes clear that the "agreement" is really more about "understanding" the concept on an intellectual level not on a "personal/emotional" level, to which I usually says something like: "This just in, real relationships are personal and are based and built on trust not concepts."
After that, not a lot of time passes before I hear something like: "Okay Einstein, and I do this how"? To which I usually respond by asking some questions like: "How have you built relationships in the past"? "Were these relationships where you weren't worried about getting something"? "Did the relationship start with you trying to help this person"? "Where was your focus - on them or yourself?"
So what I am trying to do here is actually stumble to a point: behavior is driven by attitude.
If you enter a relationship where "getting" comes before "giving" people will sense it and if that is the attitude they continue to see, what you will have, best case, is an acquaintance and probably not one whose face will light up at the mention of your name.
I know this sounds horribly naive, but I can't help it; for good or for ill it seems to be in my DNA. To over simplify, at a macro level, I think there are two types of people running around the planet: givers and takers.
Now for sure, the "takers" get more ink (think too big to fail?) and I don't have stats to prove it, but my life experience suggests that at least when it comes to making a career move, the "givers" make changes a lot faster than the "takers."