Great careers (and meaningful lives) are built on more than degrees, experience, and thriving industries. Just as important, even more so in the long run, are the people we associate with. We can’t have too many good people in our lives. Connecting and maintaining contact with good people (however you define “good”) not only makes life worth living, it makes work worth loving. And on the way, we bolster our career security.
—Brian has lunch with Corita twice a year because he feels inspired when he hears how she’s pursuing her love of music.
—Julie’s crazy about Basset Hounds and belongs to a Basset Hound owners’ group. She enjoys the opportunity to be with others who share her enthusiasm.
—Lisa participates with members of her church in Habitat for Humanity projects. She does a useful task, gains a sense of accomplishment, and gets to know other volunteers and new homeowners.
—Jason attends professional soccer games with his friend Tony and enjoys more than the game. Jason has always marveled at Tony’s friendliness, and while watching him talk with a former college buddy—now a member of the team—he realizes that a key factor in Tony’s “friendliness” is how Tony asks his buddy questions—about family, work, and mutual friends.
Brian, Julie, Lisa, and Jason benefit from the connections as they already exist.
Connecting with others adds pleasure, stimulation, energy, inspiration, and enrichment to our lives. More than a mere means to an end, paying attention to whom we are drawn and then reaching out to others is worthwhile on its own. Whether an encounter ever leads directly to a career improvement is secondary to the immediate benefits of the relationship itself. It’s good for the soul and spirit, regardless of work circumstances.
Now here’s the indirect—and invisible—by-product of seeking and maintaining relationships with others: While increasing life and career enjoyment, you strengthen your career foundation. Beyond the pleasure and opportunities to learn and to be inspired, the ability to seek and maintain relationships with good people enlarges your network, naturally. These ongoing relationships are often mutual, rarely one-sided. When we do want to build bridges to new career opportunities, we already have connections. It’s natural for others to want to help. And it’s easy to offer to reciprocate.
—Brian could ask Corita if she knows of a career coach.
—Julie could ask her Basset Hound friends for leads in her search for a public relations job.
—Lisa could gain some experience and build skills she can use to prepare for a career change.
—Jason’s friendship with Tony could lead to a business partnership someday.
Although those are not the main reasons for the connections, they could be valuable secondary benefits, benefits unlikely without the original connections.
The line between this “good people” principle and networking in the traditional job-search sense is a fine one. Don’t confuse it with the means-to-an-end mentality mistakenly associated with “networking.” It’s not pushiness or desperation arising out of a career crisis. Just the opposite: it’s invisible. It happens as a result of enjoying, helping, and learning from people regardless of their apparent career utility. Seeking and maintaining contact is primary; the benefits flow naturally. What better way to build “equity” in your career than through rewarding relationships!
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Consider a CAP (Career Action Planning) Session if you:
> Feel stuck or stalled in your career
> Are worried about a layoff
> Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
> Have been looking for work but not getting results.
In this 90-120-minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it. For more information call me at 314-752-1373 or use the contact form on my website.