Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Woe is me

I know that networking is an important part of searching for a job in today's world. It's all about your contacts and connections. It's about letting people you know what you're seeking, and enlisting their advise and suggestions.

But as a somewhat shy person, I'm not very good at it. I don't really know where to start.

Last night I was a guest at the beautiful Beverly Hills home of a highly respected person in the Los Angeles arts world. My dinner neighbor to the left was a charming former U.S. Senator, and on my right was a powerful lawyer. Across the table, a senior academic official related tales of working with a MacArthur-winning scientist.

Only there I was, feeling sorry for myself, so it was hard to fully enjoy it all.

How can I network when I don't seem to know anyone?

OK - I wrote this to be funny, but really, I'm serious.

I do know lots and lots of interesting people in fields I'd like to work in, but I am finding that I am very very shy about contacting them.

People say to me - "Just go talk to So-and-So and let them know about your situation," but I find myself stymied.  I allow uncertainty about proper etiquette to paralyze me. I overthink what I'll say, and then when I do talk to someone, I never end up asking what I really to ask.

I think this New Year's Resolution will be to get serious about this.


Anonymous said...

What a surprise to see that you are uncomfortable with networking. So many people read and share your columns. Good luck on cultivating your garden of friends, and I hope employment opportunities begin to bloom for you.

Anonymous said...

Go for it! In this economy you need to do everything you can to find a job. I think, in the past, it was frowned upon to "use" your connections/friends, but now days it is totally accepted. Years go I asked a family friend to help me in a job hunt, she was thrilled to do it. I didn't get a job through her, but I learned it doesn't hurt to ask. ALBUG

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. I hate asking in general but, as a former shy person, there is something I would like you to remember: it costs nothing to ask and you are well mannered enough that no one will think of you as rude.To this day, when I dread doing something, I ask myself "What is the worst that can happen?" Most of the time, the magnitude of the catastrophe I built in my head becomes an anthill. Go for it (but I still hate sitting at dinner next to people I don't know....small talk is definitely an acquired taste)

Kizz said...

I am not a gung ho networker but I've worked really hard to get more comfortable with it. You can do this. I would suggest a couple of things, like don't wait until the new year, just do one tiny thing each day for even 5 days a week.

My coach had an exercise where you wrote a "fan list" which was basically a list of everyone you know. When you're reluctant to do it usually the first people on it are your family and friends but once you get into it you see that you have a lot of people on your side. Maybe you don't know anyone who does what you want to do but you know someone who's a good networker or who is in the same boat as you or who knows what!

My other big thing is: just say it out loud. When I was in the terrible horrible no good very bad job I knew I was leaving, I knew I couldn't do it any more but I couldn't say what I wanted out loud. Once I formulated a plan (I'm leaving. I'm interested in something part time, 3 days a week ideally, maybe 4, in the same sort of field.) I knew that unless I told people about it I wouldn't do it. So I started telling safe people, people who I didn't think could help me but who could hear me and be supportive of my desire. Wouldn't you know it? One of the safe folks knew someone who interviewed me and gave be the job I've had for almost 8 years. Just keep talking about what you want, when the words get out there they'll be working for you, sometimes you won't even know how.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I feel for you. I am definitely not shy but I think I am a terrible networker. I like your advice Kizz, especially the fan list and doing one tiny thing each day. I think I could use this advice too. Best of luck Aunt Snow! We're all certainly rooting for you!