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."


Mark said...

You are always an articulate communicator. Likely as this "wisdom" is so close to your soul, on this topic you are almost lyrical.
The world is indeed divided into groups.
Your "givers" and "takers" could easily subsitute for what I heard described just today by a client as hunter gathers vs. scavengers A dozen other descriptions of individuals attempting the black magic of alchemy without understanding that only humans working in a harmony and in the best interest of the nature of their talents and skills can change base materials into things of lasting value for the community or network. This occurs primarily when we accept the need to sublamate our own immediate desires, needs, and perpetuation of the network to the greater good.
When one of the groups brings to light their sole interst is to try to extract without first conprehending the need to contribute, how can they be but feel befuddled when you point out that behavior is driven by attitude. In a network actions driven out of taking show quickly to any keen enough to have something of value to give or contribute in their own attitude that no worthwhile or sustainable congress will occur.
As we have tradtionally shared a optimitic or half full (yet to be filled) outlook I thought it approriate to acknowlwdge and thank you for taking the time to clearly communicate to those capable of hearing that this is not an activity to exploit others for our gain
We build heathly, resiliant and vibrant networks in all aspects of our lifes that reflect our inner attitudes, personal perpective, values and aspirations each day. They illuminate how seeking first to understand and build on the contributions of others is the only way to turn lead into gold.
Best personal and professional regards Doc

Dave Opton said...


I wish I had your clarity. I probably should have just contacted you and asked you to do the post! :)

Many thanks,