Thursday, September 11, 2008

Finding Time for Networking

The following is a composite of clients I have known over the past couple of years:
James, currently in the midst of a job search, began his story with, “A few years ago I made a horrible decision . . . and I’m still paying the price today.” The decision involved staying at a high paying job that he disliked, instead of returning to his home town to take lower paying, but much more satisfying job. In the intervening time, he has gotten divorced and relocated to the Bay Area to work 10 hours a day at something he considers, “very disappointing.”
As you can imagine, he is frustrated, angry, and even embarrassed. He claims he has no “time” to change his situation. After listening to his story, I asked how he has been conducting his job search. He answered, “Craigslist, Career Builder, HotJobs, and trying to connect with headhunters” who aren’t returning his calls, because his resume, impressive in many ways, shows no real focus or direction.
We talked about the importance and necessity of networking and he vehemently responded, several times, that he had no time for this activity. I then asked him to step back from the job search to analyze how he spends his time each day, and to his surprise, he found he has 30-90 minutes of “discretionary” time each day. Once he got over his shock and apologized for his “stubbornness,” he recognized that even if he used a minimum 30 minutes a day for networking, in a month’s time, this would create options that would not be possible through posting resumes and responding to job openings.
We then focused on where he could begin his networking. He swore to me that his key connections, of which he has dozens, were “old” and hadn’t been contacted in years. We spoke about how he could approach these people (“I know it’s been a long time, but I want to let you know that I’m in a transition period in my work life . . . and I could use your help and advice . . . . “) and once he had his “script” worked out, we finished our session by having him create his “Top 20” list of people to contact in the weeks ahead. And even if he calls just half of those people, think about the doors that might open for him . . . .
Best wishes.

Mark Guterman