During my years as a career coach, when clients come to me discontented with their current position, a complaint that is surprisingly more frequent than being overworked and underpaid is that of being unseen and unheard. Recently, a woman who works in a financial institution told me that she does not have business cards. Her manager said she doesn’t need them. No, she is not stuck in the back room. Not at all. In fact, her job requires her to deal directly with customers, yet when she asked her manager what she should do when a customer asks for her card, he said that she could provide the customer with his business card!
Next to public speaking, the thing people fear most is NETWORKING and approaching new people at professional events.
And often, even when people make themselves go to these events, they do everything they can to actually avoid making significant professional contacts! Sounds counter-intuitive, but here’s what I’ve found by talking to many, many networking-adverse professionals…
Meeting strangers and starting conversations is really uncomfortable for most people and few really have the natural ability to do it. The 80/20 rule probably applies here whereby 80% of people are not naturally good at it. It is very similar to public speaking where most people don’t realize that it is a trainable skill. So for those 80% of you who are looking for career advancement, and want to use professional networking as a meaningful strategy, here are eight tips I’ve developed that clients have tried and confirmed really work.
Time and again I have clients come to see me in a bad spot. They have major problems with their manager. And when did it start? Typically it started soon after the reporting relationship began. Sometimes it was a ‘bait and switch’ where they were hired by one person and moved to work with another. Sometimes it was a result of a re-org. Sometimes they just thought it was going to work well but as they got to know their new manager, in short order, they realized it was not a good situation.
And most frequently, as we analyze the situation, we see that from the start, it was a bad fit. The manager made comments like, “You know, Tom, you have a mind like a steel trap and I don’t know how comfortable I am with that.” or “Sue, I can see that you’re not very good with taking direction.” Or, “Pete, maybe that kind of thing worked well at your former company, but it does not work well here!”