The Unconventional Networker

It’s never too early to start networking!

Beyond doing the online thing, it’s a good idea to consider some other forms of in-person networking opportunities like volunteering. Volunteering has the triple benefit of making the world a better place, helping us gain perspective on our own personal situations, and putting ourselves in a position to interact and establish connections. Actually, any situation where we can interact with others is a networking opportunity: working out at the gym, going food shopping, hanging out at the local coffee shop, joining a meetup, the list goes on and on. Also keep in mind that some approaches may be a better fit than others, depending on where we fall on the introvert-extrovert continuum.

So yes, definitely check out local in-person networking events but also throw in some  unconventional and creative things into the mix. A combination of both approaches may just produce the best results!

Hey, What About Me?

I’m more than happy to help my fellow networkers however I can – when it’s a 2-way street. Good karma is alive and well when it comes to effective networking! It requires a certain mindset as well. Effective networking is not really about finding our next job, but making meaningful connections and establishing mutually beneficial professional relationships.

Great New Job! Now What?

So you finally landed your dream job. Time to celebrate…of course! Time to network?? Yep. After landing a great job, it’s easy to fall into complacency. You might think, why continue to network? It goes back to the fundamental reason for networking: to build quality, long-standing professional relationships.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to suddenly downsize to save money and improve their bottom lines. Or maybe the company announces plans to restructure and as a result eliminate some positions. And unfortunately these scenarios can play out at any time. In any event, now’s not the time to rest on your laurels and lose touch with your existing network or stop making new contacts. Maintain and nurture those relationships, and make it a goal to keep growing your network, both externally and within your new organization.

A good way to start is to get in touch with your contacts and let them know about your new position, thank those who played a part in getting you there, and last but not least, express your willingness to be of assistance to your contacts. After all, networking is a reciprocal relationship, a 2-way street. Another approach is to periodically go out with co-workers for coffee, lunch, or happy hour.

So definitely go and celebrate, enjoy the new job, do great things while you’re there…but also follow the Boy Scout’s motto: “be prepared!”

Is Leading by Example a Lost Art?

lead-by-example1Anyway, we went back and forth – with others now chiming in to tell her to go to the back of the line – before I finally said to her, “Nice example you’re setting for your kids.” She definitely heard me, but pretended not to. After a couple more minutes, I decided to physically plant my body in front of her, and then I heard her say to her kids, “Just let them go first.” How generous of her. I’m generally non-confrontational, but in situations like this I have absolutely no problem confronting.

Since that day, I’ve come across the same type of behavior multiple times and in a variety of situations. I really hope it’s more the exception than the rule, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this type of behavior is more typical than I realize. It’s critical for not only parents, but also teachers, managers, or anyone else in a leadership position to lead by example! Whether it’s at home, at school, or at work, we want our the people in our charge to exhibit a desired behavior, but where’s the motivation to do so if we fail to be role models for them?

True Colors: Work Edition

In the studies done, when new employees were allowed to express their individuality and use their unique strengths, instead of conforming solely to organizational  values and behavioral norms, both the company and the employee benefitted – especially in terms of greater retention, higher quality work, greater engagement, increased job satisfaction and more positive job attitudes. This is a practice that organizations would be smart to consider.

Here’s the full report. And while you’re reading that, have a listen to Cyndi Lauper singing one of her biggest hits!

Perfectly Imperfect

 

eraserOne of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned is that perfectionism is just an illusion, an ever-unattainable goal. I’ve read Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, which instead of being a one-time read, is a reference book that I keep within easy reach on my book shelf. A lot of us get caught up on the perfectionism hamster wheel, always trying to look perfect, do perfect, be perfect, perhaps in an attempt to escape judgment from others. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown puts into perspective: “Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”

In my work as a career coach, I help others with their resumes, where understandably  the goal is to have a perfect resume. But even here we consider it a “living document” and a work in progress that is constantly evolving and improving.

According to the idea of perfectionism, it’s not good enough that we’re only human and (hopefully) trying to do our best on a daily basis. And actually, it’s when we trip up and fall a little short that help create opportunities for learning and growth. To me, healthy striving and doing my best is perfection!

What’s on the menu for your next job offer?

There are several things that will play into the final decision for accepting a job offer or not. Ask yourself if you’ll be happy over the long-term or are you being tempted by, for example, a high starting salary when everything else (health and retirement benefits, organizational culture, job responsibilities, time-off policy, professional development opportunities, length of commute, etc.) may not meet your expectations. To relate it to food, are you going for the instant gratification of a slice of lemon meringue cheesecake, or opting for a 4-course meal (including dessert!) that will provide more sustenance to satisfy your career appetite?

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On the menu at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal. May 2019. As decadent as it looks!

I always advise a holistic approach to evaluating a job offer. Yes, salary is undeniably important, but taking into account multiple factors and creating a prioritized list will help you see the big picture and make an informed decision. If you’re able to earn a high starting salary, but working in a toxic culture at an organization with a less than generous vacation policy, will you be okay with that? Or conversely, if you’re faced with a low starting salary, but will be working in a healthy and supportive environment with a great time-off policy, will you be okay with that? It all comes down to your priorities and what you value in a job and career.