I feel like the topic of this post violates what I wrote yesterday, about not liking career advice :p Oh well. This had a profound impact on me, so I’ll share it with you 🙂
Last year, in my two day workshop to help me in my job search, they said that you get job leads from your third and fourth degree contacts. In other words, you aren’t going to get job leads from family and friends.
Why? I don’t know – maybe some sociologist of anthropologist can inform us. But I found it to be true. In fact, there are other interesting things related to this weird networking issue:
- Family and friends want to help, but might not want to get too close. Most of my family and friends seemed to have an arms-length approach with me during my job search… they were “there for me,” and certainly provided (a) moral support, (b) encouragement, or (c) some kind of sympathetic approach helping me understand that I would get through it. All I really wanted was a warm introduction to a hiring manager, which no one seemed to be able to provide 🙂
- The networks of my family and friends was not very strong. I can’t really think of any family or friends that had a broad or deep network. Just like me, they had neglected relationships that were outside of their daily lives, which usually meant work or church friends.
- Their networks weren’t diverse enough to really add value to my job search. The concept of diversity is simple… it basically means that instead of having just mechanics in your network, you also have accountants. And computer geeks. And college professors. And authors. And government employees… and … and … and … I think you get the point.
- Their relationships didn’t seem to be very strong, and/or they didn’t know how to go out on a limb. Endorsements and introductions seemed to be week and half-hearted. At first I thought it might be because they thought I was a loser (after all, isn’t it a loser that loses his job??), but I came to realize that they really had not worked on developing a deeper, more intimate relationship (for more on intimate networking, check out Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi).
As I started to network outside of the family and friends circle, I found an entirely different type of people and support group. Many of these people were hustling for their own well-being. They were either in a job search or owned their own businesses… but they all had one thing in common – they understood networking and relationships. Since they didn’t know me (or, they didn’t assume they knew me), they wanted to learn about me. We began to develop relationships that went deeper than I was accustomed to. We were helping one another, and introducing each other to our networks.
Now, don’t think this was an overly-superficial process. There were long lunches, and we were really digging and trying and figure out how and where we could add value to one another. In the process, because these were people that ran in completely different circles than I had, we introduced a significant amount of diversity to one another’s network.
As with family and friends, they may not have been the person to refer me to someone that was a decision-maker. But usually they could introduce me to someone who knew someone. The third or fourth degree contact that would be valuable in my job search.
Don’t waste time or effort getting mad with family and friends. Get out there in various network opportunities, and toss your hat in the ring. It’s scary, but you’ll be amazed at what it does to your network.