Our friend, John Franklin, shared with us his ‘homily’ on networking, which he prepared for his kids. Now, even though we at JustinBradley are getting a bit tired of explaining to people how important networking is, John’s piece is so passionate and spot-on that we asked if we could share it with you. John is the founder of JWF Advisors (http://www.jwfadvisors.com) which provides career guidance focusing on planning, managing, and executing career transitions to senior executives. He can be reached at [email protected].
This is a homily to my immediate family. I have been meeting person after person, who have achieved a great deal professionally, who have come to a dead end. They have one thing in common: they are either introverts who regularly failed to get outside themselves or just never appreciated the importance of knowing a LOT of people. They are now stuck and starkly vulnerable in a savage job market.
Here is my point. Whatever your professional situation at any given time, whatever your natural inclination to work a room, whatever your personality, whatever, whatever whatever…..I believe you MUST develop the habit of reaching out to strangers, gathering business cards, noting names, making connections for them, introducing yourself to EVERYONE in your immediate vicinity, including everyone at a medium sized cocktail party (say up to fifty people). I learned early in life to stick out my hand to EVERYONE and say “Hi, I’m John Franklin.” NOT just to the people who looked easy to talk to, or were beautiful, but to ALL people. If you didn’t learn that, tough luck. Figure it out FAST.
When I opened a new office for Russell Reynolds Associates, I spent ten years meeting people at dinners, cocktails, events, cold calls, videoconferences, you name it. Out four nights a week on business, often in other cities. NOT fun events of my choosing. Then I got tired of hustling and slowed down a lot. But I had met a HUGE number of key people in the process, and learned how to do it extremely well, NOT because I liked it, but because it was necessary. And it worked.
My new business leads me to conclude that networking and working a crowd THROUGHOUT one’s life is a NECESSITY for survival in the competitive world, in which each of us now resides. To neglect it, to pretend it doesn’t matter, to give into one’s natural hesitation, is to cut your own professional throat. I don’t know how else to put it. I do not see it as a choice for someone who has aspirations for themselves.
My advice: Don’t seduce yourself into believing that things take care of themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. You take care of yourself by knowing, and helping, a lot of people you can call on when you need them.
I will be issuing periodic updates on this harangue. You dismiss the message at your peril. This is deadly serious stuff.
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