It’s funny how we talk about being connected, we have friends, families, and our phones are filled with contacts. We go to events and participate in all kinds of activities, yet when we think about getting a job, we feel alone.
We dread making that call, imposing on someone, asking about a posting. In the last few weeks, I’ve attended some networking events. The great thing about the event sponsored by Greater Miami Society for Human Resources Management, Human Resources Association of Broward County and the local chapter of the Staffing Management Association was that it took place at Sun Life Stadium and had a speed-networking exercise. If you have not attended such an event, it has an MC who organizes the networking by giving instructions and blowing a whistle when it’s time to change networking partners for the next introduction. It’s fast-paced and active, forcing you to meet new people introduce yourself quickly, exchange ‘elevator speeches’ and move on to the next person. Similar to Speed Dating, it gives you a few minutes to get acquainted with someone, their background and what they are looking for.
When you think about it, this is exactly what we should be doing every day to make new connections and cultivate job prospects, but of course it would seem too forward to take every opportunity to let people know exactly what we need. Or our courage would fade at facing a total stranger and asking them for something that we want.
A second event was a bit kinder and gentler. Back on Track Network (www.backontracknet.org) is a faith based organization that offers support and guidance and connection to those who are unemployed. The meetings take place at churches in Miami Dade and Broward, and often there are speakers addressing the group along with some networking and sharing of job leads. The group at St. Bonaventure Church in Davie last Monday evening had the benefit of a speaker, Stephanie Stanford (Happy Ain’t that Hard) who took the group through her story as well as some relaxation techniques and ways to get in touch with your inner fun-loving self. Once again the message is reach out and connect, and have fun doing it.
When we relax and open ourselves up to others, a sense of community comes about, a change happens within us and we no longer feel so alone, hopeless, forlorn. The very act of opening up and connecting has beneficial results on our brain waves. So why don’t we do it more often? Why are we able to share on Twitter and Facebook things that we can’t say to a colleague, or a business associate? Do we feel that awkward about expressing ourselves?
Well there’s an easy way to resolve this issue, talk to people about it. Let them know what you would like, what you’re concerned about, and ask them for a reference. In the society we live in, we do not like to obligate anyone, but sharing your story is just that, an invitation for someone to listen and understand. Make it clear that you don’t expect them to take care of your problem, you need to show that you are willing to take that initiative, you’re just asking for a guiding hand or thought, a gentle push. Is that so hard to do?
Think about this: we watch reality TV and the broadcastnews; we’re always interested in hearing about the stories others, so perhaps your story can be that story that someone hears and relates to. That is what connection to others means. Sharing your story in an insightful way and letting them know you’re open to ideas and suggestions gets the conversation going in a non-imposing way. Try it, you might just network your way to a new career.