- Start expanding your network by looking in the circles you already inhabit
- Your biggest obstacle to future success is yourself
- Maintaining your network is crucial
- Learn to network across all ages
I have a lot of Praxis assignments I never finished or even began. One of these was meeting with someone who was further advanced in their career and could introduce me to two other people who could help me in my own career path. Last month I tried to set up a time to meet with my neighbors- a lawyer and a college professor. These were not positions I saw myself wanting in the future, but I was short on time. I knew that both of them had diverse work experience outside of these careers, and I was certain that by asking the right questions, I would be able to extract a lot of value from our meeting.
We tried doing it over the phone, which didn’t work well. Email fell through as well. Finally, on Monday morning I walked over to their home, received a mug of coffee, and started listening.
I explained the details of the assignment and what I was hoping for. We actually ignored most of the questions I had previously written down, and instead talked about what I was doing right then: networking.
This was perfect timing as I was reading Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi, which is all about relationships and how important it is to nurture them.
Mr. Ostergaard, a college professor who often works with young people, explained the importance of knowing where you want to go and how you’ll get there. He gave me some strategies he uses in networking and building relationships with people, as well as advice on finding the right people.
Mrs. Ostergaard worked as an editor for a time and mentioned several people she knows who are in the business. Since our meeting, she has emailed three of these people, I have followed up and received one response! I love reading and I love editing pieces by other people, so this is one business I want to keep learning about and exploring.
Going into this assignment, I had almost no strategy- I hadn’t planned for it, I didn’t know what I wanted out of it, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to conduct myself. One more lesson I’ll add to the above:
5. Preparation will help you get what you want
Regardless, I was able to learn and understand more about myself and the world and practical strategies for moving forward as a professional. I have new contacts (or potential contacts) in editing. And I have experience- I met with someone and asked to pick their brain. I can do it again and do it better now.