Wednesday, March 21, 2012
So, I recently went to an alumni mixer to network…and yes, fine, okay: to flirt with mens 15+ years younger than me. Happy? Feeling good about yourself since you got me to admit something…well, I could say ‘shameful’ but since I’m a big hit with that particular demographic, perhaps ‘shameful’ isn’t exactly the right word. Maybe something more like, “Oh, hell yeah, I did!” But, I digest.
Anyway, at said alumni event, I was reminded that 1): an open bar remains an awesome accomplishment in the history of our species, and 2): many smart people still don’t understand how important networking is. Nor do they understand that networking is an on-going activity. Think about some of the truly successful people you know. Not the ones who hooked-up with some miscellaneous Kardashian. No, I’m talking about those successful people whom you admire and would feel comfortable inviting into your home, without fearing that they’d transmit some new, antibiotic-resistant STD to the cats.
Those people network non-stop: at school, at the gym, at a bar, in line at Starbucks…they are always seeking opportunities. And by 'networking,' I don’t mean they just collect business cards and add them to their LinkedIn profile. They engage with their contacts. You people, who have 300 LinkedIn connections, but hate your job…or are unemployed? What do you think those connections are, chopped liver?
And I’m prefacing these comments by talking about 'smart people,' because the people I spoke to at the alumni event, who either didn’t have business cards, or didn’t know what kind of job they wanted, or half-heartedly said they were “um, you know, kinda networking”…these are people whom, when I looked them up later on LinkedIn, or checked out their resumes, they were all honor students, with high GPAs etc. (Sigh.)
So, if you at home, are also wishing you had an open bar available right about now, and oh yeah, you could maybe also use you a j-o-b, just do these three things for me:
11 Create a (free) account on LinkedIn, with a professional and engaging photo, and start filing in your education, your experience. Start thinking: how am I going to present myself to the world? What type of job might I be interested in? And whom do I know?
2. Get some traditional (translation: boring) business cards with, if nothing else, your name, your cell phone, a professional email address and some kind of title to identify yourself, ex: 'Juris Doctorate Candidate,' or 'Journalism Student,' or anything else that makes it seem like you have some kind of plan. (Don’t worry if you do not, indeed, have said plan: life is about pretending like you do have a plan, figuring out what interests you, trying to make that happen and then waking up one day and realizing that all of that activity translated, if you’re smart, into a very interesting plan. The secret is hard work. Dear God, when did I become my grandpa?)
3. Clean up all your social media accounts. Seriously. Make them so boring that HR will feel sorry for you because you clearly have no friends and no life…and hey, you’d be perfect to work here! Because even the best LinkedIn profile, the most talented networking, the most competent experience is going to be derailed by Tweets like “#Rise&grind trees” or “I need a ride and dye #b*tch” or a Facebook page showing you doing keg-stands or quoting controversial figures describing their sexual proclivities. (This reminds me of certain people you’ll find on Twitter, for example, who advertise that traffic in stolen goods. And you want to say, “Um, you know that the cops use the same Twitter you do, right? There isn’t like a grown-up Twitter, or a knucklehead-free Twitter, so if you’re advertising that your ‘job’ is stealing and then re-selling iPods or iPhones, I’m going to look forward to your last Tweet from Central Booking.”)
When you’ve done all three things on the list, and you still some need help to get your career search in focus….shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!