A few weeks ago I attended a networking event with some very impressive people. One participant “Curtis” had recently left his job as a corporate vice president. He’d obviously enjoyed considerable success, yet he was clearly nervous about networking.
Curtis introduced himself almost apologetically, with self-deprecating humor about his situation. He had found some consulting assignments that seemed prestigious to most of us, yet he downplayed what he was doing. He even made a negative comment about one of his contract jobs which had an old-fashioned, slow-moving culture.
Curtis didn’t just miss opportunities to advance his job search. He might have alienated potential advocates and audience members who had the power to help. In my experience, the best help comes from the least likely sources. You’re always “on.”
I felt for Curtis. I knew where he was coming from. We’ve all been there, trying to find our way with a displaced identity, making mistakes we’d never have made when we felt strong, confident and in charge.
Curtis knew I had a career website but didn’t ask for the link. Like most strong achievers, he was confident of his ability to handle his own career. I couldn’t reach out to Curtis, but I made this video for anyone else who might be in his position … or knows someone who is.
What’s been your experience with networking? Do you have any suggestions for anyone who’s experiencing these challenges? Comment below or on the YouTube video.