A few days ago, I received a call from my sister inviting me to go watch “LinkedIn” with her. After chuckling at her mispronunciation, we headed to the movie theatre for a dose of American history in an easily digestible Oscar-pleasing package.
Who You Know
You just know that, had LinkedIn been around at the time, Lincoln would have been all over that sh*t. You see, the film really drives home the old adage, ” It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Whether moving connections and influence to set up undecided Democrats with cushy jobs in high places, or ensuring his son stays out of battle and under the protection of Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln’s social and professional network was instrumental to his personal, professional (and most would argue, moral) victory.
As I began volunteering and working, I quickly grasped the importance of fostering and maintaining positive relationships in all spheres of life. And this is coming from a girl who grew up thinking of “networking” and “schmoozing” as tacky and opportunistic. And it is, if not approached with a sincere interest in people and what they do (rather than what they can do for you).
Happy to Help
Whether on or offline, keeping your contacts (both personal and professional) in mind when thinking about your career path is just smart. And I’m not talking about sucking up, or using people. I’m talking about informational interviews, getting opinions, finding sources of useful information and moral support –not looking for handouts.
That being said, for me, the most satisfying part of maintaining a good network, has to be putting my friends and admired acquaintances in touch with opportunities. I’ve been blessed with fantastic friends, amazing colleagues, inspiring fellow volunteers. When exploring career options, I would definitely get in touch with them (and I have). In fact, I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t want to help. However, it’s hard to imagine my own career advancement beating the joy that comes from knowing that I played a small part in helping them out. So much so, that I’ve even considered a job in career counseling.
1. Networking isn’t icky and opportunistic, unless you approach it that way.
2. Fostering and moving connections is mutually beneficial.
3. Lincoln would have liked LinkedIn.
So go ahead and treat that business woman you admire to a coffee. Help your friend from college get his resume to the HR department. Reach out to a younger generation of professionals. If it’s good enough for the President of the USA, it’s good enough for me.
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