Networking

The First Part to Working is Networking

There are quite a few resources out there which advise on networKING. Some are in the library and are available in the form of books such as The Hidden Job market etc. Networking is an interesting societal trend which has actually been around for ages and got an interesting social spin and rebirth after the 2008 housing crisis. It is also a very European phenomenon, typical for smaller places with a clear focus on personal preferences and friendships as opposed to an actual hunt for talent.

So how to network?

It typically involves leaving one’s circle and breaking new waters in the form of making new acquaintances, going to networking events, joining meetup places and clubs – almost any activity involving new experiences and people. Some people even use dating sites and services to network – this is sort of tricky, yet doable. One of my roommates is a master of date networking and it may be grounds for a new post if I can get an exclusive with her. Here, I will stick to more traditional methods via clubs, memberships at places, sport events, volunteering, hobbies and a number of more.

One of the famous immigrants in this country, Nick Noorani, wrote a piece of advice where, in a nutshell, he advises to learn about Canada, get to know it and hang out with people outside of your immediate circle, culture and language group. If you always stay in that circle, likely you will learn few new things – you will master the skill of complaining which not transferable. As you get to know the country and start liking it, you will meet people and before you know it – you are networking. If you are walking with a partner in your arms – you are really dancing. Same concept here also.

At first any networking is good. Then once you become more skillful, you will learn to segment and target your potential new friends and become more strategic. What is more, after a while, you develop a professional hunch or intuition and it gets easier. Meeting new people is exhausting, continuous, costly and often frustrating effort. Learn to handle the fatigue, be persistent, spend some money which is an investment, and tolerate some rejection and then fear of rejection. Awards will come even if not the first time.

Now this is where it gets good. Many people know this fact yet few apply it to networking. There are quite a few personality types. Myers Briggs personality model is a good start. While there are quite a few intricacies to their model, in a gist it boils down to two types of people – introverts and extroverts. Introverts are typically the skillful kind – good at math, science, Excel spreadsheets etc. The other folks are good for coaching jobs, sales, presentations, motivational speech, risk takers and… you guessed it, networking. This is not to be taken to the extreme – there are many occasions where people are a cross between the two.

So what do I do if I am a skillful engineer or an architect etc. and not so good with people? In a normal world, you get hired for your skill. Your management cashes in on it, gains competitive advantage to other companies and compensates the communication imbalance. In Vancouver, just being a good techie leaves room for improvement and may cause disappointment. One way to handle this situation is to team up. Look for someone skillful with people and tag along. The extroverts are easy to spot and are comfortable with making introductions, gabbing and simply starting conversations. The smart ones know that their technical skills are poor and will cherish you more than their girlfriends if you show them some value, integrity and confidence. They will be happy to let you in on their clues and opportunities since this is what they are good at and, among other things, it drives their ego.

More in the next post on networking in Vancouver.