By Frances Harder, May 10, 2016
My life’s journey has been a real true story of the POWER of networking! The youngest of three children, a baby boomer, with a natural love of people. Born an artistic dyslexic, I soon learnt to use my love of people and art to benefit and guide my life’s journey.
It is a fact that I have applied for a couple of jobs in my life but neither resulted in an offer! However, of the many countless jobs I have held in my interesting and very varied career have occurred from knowing someone, which then in turn opened another new door and a new experience. IMPORTANT to note: It has not all been easy smooth sailing and I think I can say I have worked bloody hard and still do!:) But it would take writing another book for me to explain and describe the amazing experiences that I have had in my life both personal and within my career.
The purpose of this blog is to help you to consider how YOU can use your own network for your own career advantage and advancement. I know there are many people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and numerous recent graduates that are unable to find an appropriate job offer. However, it is important to consider your network from college, work or professional organizations you maybe a member of. One of these could be your link to connecting to your next position. Retraining is also very valuable these days with all the technology that is being applied to all professional careers. If you are not proficient with certain programs that are now part of the career path you chose than maybe now is the time and a good opportunity to gain these skills.
It is so important for you to consider your communication skills and people skills that may not be fully realized and developed. Learning in a classroom environment is one thing but it is also critical to understanding the value of eye contact, listening skills and conversation. It is not all about “social networking” it is about real time networking, with real people.
For students or even those who are unfortunately out of work a good way to start networking is through an internship. This experience should be considered as part of your education, an extension of your learning process. Of course it is important not to be put in a situation that you are being used and abused. You have to ask the following questions:
- Are you learning from your internship and getting those important network connections?
- Are you adding value to the company so that they will then hopefully recommend you for other opportunities, either within their company, or to others with in their network?
- Can you leverage those connections made through your internship to further your own career opportunities?
Important to understand that many businesses are often generous in taking in interns. But they first have to train you and then it is up to you to make sure that you contribute and become an asset. (Important to find out the laws in each state. In California interns must be compensated for their time, or they may work for college credit. Or they could volunteer as an intern at a not for profit organization.)
My first job offer from within the industry came about from my first internship as a knit wear designer for a company in Macclesfield, Cheshire. After a few months of working at this job I was invited to teach one day a week at my graduate college, Salford University. My boss/mentor at knit wear company very kindly allowed me to take this time off from my design job, as I believe he saw this as a good opportunity for me and my career. And so it was!! These two opportunities then launched my many years in two very interesting and rewarding duel careers, as a designer and as an educator. I have been so fortunate and touch wood I still am!
Stay tuned for my next blog.