This is a “Throwback Monday” post (I realize that according to the internet, rehashing the days of yore are dedicated to Thursday, but that rule is not set in stone and I can do whatever the hell I want).
Just recently I added some perspective when it comes to the idea of “networking” to get to the job of your dreams. While perusing through my previous blog, I found more clarification on this topic. Please note: this post was originally written in February, 2009:
Originally Posted: Fri, 06 Feb 2009 13:22:23
Recently, I have succumbed to creating a profile on LinkedIn. I don’t even know why. Could it be that it could be the next great thing as a job resource with the possibility of being connected with all these wonderful professionals in my field? That’s okay if they don’t know me from Adam, or know anything about my work ethic, my demeanor, my computer skills. Clearly, this would be a good way to land an interview. My chances of being seen (not necessarily heard) have increased. While I’m at it, I’ll post the most flattering picture of me, wearing a nice blazer with colorful shirt underneath, sitting at what appears to be a desk with useless collectibles I have acquired during my last vacation. And let’s not forget the adorable pictures of the family dog.
With this bit excitement in mind, I created a profile on LinkedIn, and did a search for past co-workers. And then a thought occurred to me….all my years of experience doesn’t mean a thing, it’s all about the possibility of connecting with someone who has made somewhat of a name for him/herself in that field or specific company that can pull some strings. Granted, this strategy does indeed work. On the contrary, I have wasted fifteen years of my life. Thank you, Mr. String Puller!
In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t waste time and money completing my education at Columbia College. Can you imagine wasting away countless number of hours of cramming for exams and studies catered to your prospective field, working in unpaid internships, only to find out that in order to reach your “dream job” you need to get hooked with the “right” person?
May I present the true definition of networking: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Here is another scenario that will further embellish my point. A couple of years ago, I had an interview with The Chicago Tribune. I did not go the usual route of applying online (because, as fellow disengagers know, you’re guaranteed to go into the big, black empty hole of cyberspace). Instead, I was able to locate an individual e-mail address of someone who works in HR. The cover letter was not mind-blowing or even innovative, as it laid out the basics: my skills, qualifications, and so forth. However, I did do something different this time around: I threw in a name. I got a call from the Chicago Tribune the next day. An interview was scheduled. Needless to say, I did not get the position. That explanation will come in another post.
I cringe every time I hear the thought of networking. In fact, it’s an insult. The bottom line is that the almighty puller of strings may refer you to someone because either a) they are heightening their egotistical manner. This would apply to someone that you don’t even know that well, b) they’re making money off you as part of some referral program, or c) you are that person’s best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner/mother/father/sister/brother/cousin/2nd cousin/great aunt/great uncle/dog/cat/ferret. In most cases, option C is usually the case. This occurs in the film industry all the time. The flipside of course, is the counter-argument. Anyone who advocates networking might say that if it wasn’t for that person’s qualifications, they wouldn’t have been recommended to begin with. While that may be true, let’s say that person does get the job, compliments of Mr. String Puller. There is always the danger of low productivity and inherit the of-course-I-am-not-expendable-because-I-am-in-like-flint attitude, thus resulting in lack of motivation and a snotty demeanor. Guess what…you were just let go because of your lack of motivational skills, and you just made Mr. String Puller look really bad. Way to go! Attention String-Pullers: do you really want to take that chance? The moral of this story is: it doesn’t matter if you have years of experience. It doesn’t matter if you hold a graduate degree in a certain field. What matters is that you get “networked” with the right person. Good luck with your String-Puller search!