In a recent article, I read this:
Networking is not asking for a job or a job lead. Networking is about getting AIR. Networking can rejuvenate how you feel about your job or your job search the same way oxygen reenergizes your body. AIR is an acronym that stands for:
Advice (career advancement, job search, career-changing)
Information (company, industry trends, news)
Recommendations (associations to join, books to read, skills to develop, people to talk to)
I like the general idea. The metaphor of networking being like oxygen that rejuvenates a job search is good. We all need to think about how networking can get us going onto a new path. Sometimes our job search needs a kick start. Other times it just needs a slightly new direction. Sometimes just meeting someone new can change our day or week enough to make it more positive.
I also like the “I = information” and “R = recommendations” part. I believe if you take an approach that networking is more than asking for a job, you have expanded your thinking. There are a lot of items we need to learn about – what are some companies that are hiring? What are good companies to work for? What is a skill I need and how might I go about getting it? So the “Information” piece and the “recommendations” piece are good.
But I hesitate on the “A = advice” piece.
Should you really be looking for advice in a networking discussion?
Advice is cheap. Everyone likes to give it. Everyone feels like they are doing a good deed when they give it. Advice can sound helpful. But most people give advice from their perspective, skills, interests and experiences. That will certainly NOT match your their perspective, skills, interests and experiences.
What do I mean by this? Who are the advice givers you might run into?
The extrovert, who gains energy from meeting others, is glad to advise you about all of the people you “need” to meet. They have a long list of events to attend or job seeker groups you “have” to go to. Their advice is all around being places where there are a lot of people. Their advice focuses on the “strangers” you don’t know who might be able to help you. The problem? This may not fit your introverted style.
The “organized” person will tell you that you need to keep a detailed spreadsheet of all activity. Keep that spreadsheet updated as you complete task, meet new people, follow up on previous contacts, etc. You’ll spend an hour a day on that spreadsheet . . .yet you hate doing this kind of thing. Their advice is focused on what makes them tick, not necessarily what makes you tick.
The “grinder” will advise you to apply to at least 4 jobs a week. They “know” that it is a “numbers game.” You will beat the odds if you apply enough times for enough jobs. The “law of averages” will catch up with you. This advice giver revels in having tangible targets. They love having numbers to point to their work effort. It works for them. But maybe that doesn’t work for you.
The “been through it before” advice-giving person will tell you exactly the correct way to get a job. They will map out the process that they used, successfully, in the past. Never mind that particular process might not be relevant today. Never mind the person forgot all of the missteps they took along the way. What worked for them might not be what works for you.
I am not suggesting you ignore others’ advice. But consider the source. Consider how that advice feels for you. If I told you it is so much fun to run a half marathon, but you have never run a race in your life, would you think that is great advice? What if I advised you that you should buy a certain car or cell phone or bike? Just because I like them doesn’t mean you will. Same with job-seeking advice. Listen, consider but decide how it fits you.
Attitude, not Advice
I would like to keep the “AIR” metaphor, but substitute a different word for the letter “A”. What if you use the word “Attitude” instead?
Your attitude is within your own control. That is the best way to manage your daily moods.
Your attitude can match your experience, talents, interests and skills.
A positive attitude is perceived by others. They will want to work with you, interview you and be around you.
An attitude that reflects the reality of your situation will be easier to manage and maintain. There will be tough days when is seems you are getting no traction on interviews. There will be days you are nervous for an interview. But if you know it is your self-chosen attitude, you might feel more comfortable.
So keep the “AIR”. But rely on your attitude, not the advice of others.
If you want to read the full article I referenced, go here http://careersherpa.net/networking-is-a-waste-of-time-or-is-it