Sunday, September 25, 2011


Every once in a while, I speak at UBC to new grads about the world outside of academics. I always tell them one thing. NETWORK.

For many of them networking is a) dirty, icky and slimy b) something they don't need since they are qualified c) daunting

Let me address each of these points over a series of posts. Today I will focus on:

Networking is dirty, icky and slimy.... 

Not when done right. I think the image that a lot of people have when they think of networking is someone buying them drinks, getting their contact information and emailing/calling them until they agree to buy/do something.

I approach networking as building relationships with cool people I want to know. It isn't about what they can do for me, but what I can do for them. Can I help my new friend/acquaintance by introducing them to someone else for an informational interview? Do they need a recommendation on a great book? Do they need a second eye on a press release because they have never written one before? I always help. The key is, what you can do to help someone else. Imagine if our entire world was based on that?

I have found 100% of my jobs through networking. Even my recent tenant for my apartment, I have found through personal networks and connections. It is never just I meet person X tell them I need a job, they give me a job. Often it is in a round about way.

For example, as I mentioned before, I am an active UBC alumni. So one day in 2009, there was a UBC job posting. I was looking for a career change, I wasn't sure if PR was something I really want to do anymore.  So, I made a call to a contact I had at UBC and it turns out they were the ones doing the hiring. They encouraged me to apply and because I had a personal connection to someone on the hiring committee and because I had acquired knowledge about the university and academic programs over my volunteer work there, I aced the interview and got the job.

While I left the job after a year (learning that I missed PR), I did make an impression with my hard work and positive attitude. Unfortunately, I got laid off from my new job about 8 months later. It was a shocking time in my life, and the economy was (still is) in the shitters. Looking for a job was not exactly easy.

Then one day, after freelancing and scraping by on EI and contracts here and there, I saw a job posting from my current employer. I remembered a co-worker at UBC actually used to work there. I contacted him and asked for a name and introduction. I wanted to find someone to have an informational interview with (to learn more about the job). He pulled through and got me the contact of the VP of Marketing. We had a great chat for an hour and the rest as they say is history.

The lesson here? It is something that does that a lot of work, but it isn't icky. It is about making connections with people, getting to know them and just being a good person. People can smell desperation and insincerity a mile away.

Eventually, as they say, what goes around, comes around. Maybe a more new age way of thinking about Karma.

1 comment:

Sean said...

So true! Gotta keep connections alive. They are so important.