Your Amiga is alive!
OK, this has nothing to do with Amigas transforming into sentient beings while we sleep (it was a virus) … it has everything to do with the career experience. I’ve recently had some fantastic conversations with some folks in my network, and I guess, well, I’ve had one of those moments (of the epiphany variety) where I’ve found some clarity in how I want my career to evolve post b-school. I’ve come up with three focus areas that many of you are probably already incorporating into your career experiences:
- Give back
- Build relationships, not just a network
- Be a player, not a victim
This is more about being at a point in my career where I can really help others. Whether that’s giving a person a recommendation (and make sure people know you would do this for them), sending a shout out at work (send an email to a person’s manager when that person has gone above and beyond for something), or redirecting another colleague to someone in your network, there are some very easy ways to give back.
LinkedIn becomes a valuable tool for this focus area. What’s the harm in writing a short recommendation for someone you’ve worked with or–using a new feature on LinkedIn–endorsing someone’s skills? If you are reading this and you have endorsed Skills for me on LinkedIn, thank you–I look forward to returning the good vibes as well. I’m missing lots of ways to give back, so let me know your ideas.
Build relationships, not just a network
This one is obvious and became abundantly clear during business school, but it became even more clear for me when I met a Sigma Chi alum via LinkedIn. The alum is a sales guy, and he contacted me for sales opportunities, but when we actually met up, he didn’t push sales; instead, he focused on how he could help me. He told me he likes to build relationships and then maybe at some point in time, those relationships turn around and help him later.
For example, let’s say you meet someone via a LinkedIn introduction. You exchange email, but you find out that you can’t really help that person at this time but you know of someone who could. You’ve just helped that person extend their network via your own network. Then, perhaps, down the road, you find out that the relationship those two people built turned into a startup business, and they now want you to join! Probably a bit much, but you get what I’m trying to say here, right? A strong network relies on relationships that you’ve built over time and connections that you don’t even realize that you are making via these relationships.
Be a player, not a victim
This is the “get off your lazy ass and make shit happen” call to action. Whether this saying is an original thing or not (a quick search on Google reveals the “victim/victor” model), I’ll just say that I first heard it from our CMO at Microsoft. And, I get it. I don’t know that I would have appreciated the value of this statement 10 years ago, but now I’m through the point of trying to prove myself and compete–I just want to get stuff done, have impact for a company and their customers, and define my own path. I find that I’m now very aware when I start complaining about something or get jealous of someone. I’ll think to myself, “man I wish I had one of those houses on the lake,” or “I should be a director of a group by now, how’d that person get to be one at such a young age?” Well, guess what? The people that own that lake house or are the director of a group probably worked their butts off to get that house or to become that director. Odds are, it wasn’t because they got lucky, or they were born rich, or they played politics to get a higher position. Sure, that happens sometimes, but most of the time it is because they chose to be a player, not a victim.
I think the key here is to ask yourself if you feel like you are always trying to find something to blame for why things happen. Are you a whiner? Is the world against you? Don’t blame the politics or the bureaucracy, and if those things do bother you in your current work situation, do something about it. Start working on a plan to change the situation. And for the love of Pete, don’t blame the weather!