Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
In my years of being a career coach I have always advocated for networking and spreading one’s net as far and wide as possible. And sometimes this advice has really been taken to heart, and clients have been remarkably creative in their networking efforts. I wanted to share the top 3 stories that come to mind as they just might inspire you in your career and network building efforts:
- Across the clothesline, literally. Mike had just attended my seminar on networking and he was feeling particularly inspired. He said that his notion of networking had been limited to his professional circle and here I was, advocating for him to talk to his dentist, his doctor, the librarian, his haircutter and more. I said that you never know who will have contacts for you once you get the word out. Well, when he returned home and his wife asked him to help out with the laundry, dutifully he went to the backyard to collect the bedsheets that she’d put on the line. As he was doing the task, he noticed a new neighbor on the other side of the fence. She was also collecting her laundry. He called out to introduce himself and decided to mention he was an engineer in job-seeking mode. The new neighbor came closer and said that she had moved to the area to start a new job at a local and growing high tech firm. The firm just happened to need engineers. They got talking, an interview resulted, and within 2 weeks, his over-the-fence networking led to the job he has had for several years.
- Going back to pre-school. A young client was struggling to get his first professional job out of college. He was the first in his family to attend college so he couldn’t get much help from his family. We started brainstorming to find out how he might network effectively. I asked him to list all of the groups and affiliations he could think of. I was surprised when he included a pre-school reunion that his mother asked him to attend with her. He hadn’t kept up with his young friends over the years. But to please his mother he attended the reunion and at my suggestion, he brought along his resume and an open-mindedness about telling the attendees about his professional aspirations. Turned out that the young woman who had been his ‘girlfriend’ in pre school was a local high school teacher and she was happy to introduce him to her husband who was in the field that my client was looking to get a job in. Yes, that pre-school reunion resulted in just the introduction he needed!
- Pool collision leads to career opportunity. A client was miserable at her corporate job and came to me for coaching on a career transition. She wanted to get into the non profit sector though her 20+ year career had been exclusively focused in the for-profit, corporate arena. We were planning all kinds of ways for her to get involved in the non profit community when she had a pool collision that turned out to be fortuitous. Lisa was a dedicated swimmer and one day, deep in thought as she swam, she collided with another swimmer when she was distracted and got out of her lane. She felt terrible, and both women, with fairly significant bumps to the head, got out of the pool. Lisa apologized profusely, and the two women ended up getting into a nice conversation. One thing led to the next, and Lisa mentioned the reason for her distraction, her career pre-occupation. Turned out the woman she collided with was the director of a local non profit! And yes, within a month Lisa had a new job working for the woman she had literally bumped into at the pool! You never know where your next networking opportunity will be, readers. Always be ready to share your story and network! And please write in with your networking stories. I’d love to hear about them and share them with our Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice community. Best, Joan Coach