Connect. Don't Network!


I graduated in 1997 in a  pre-Y2K job market.  I landed my first job at DIMAC Direct, who at the time was the largest direct marketing firm in the USA with blue chip clients.  I was grateful to be placed on the firms largest account, AT&T where I had a chance to learn a lot of great things and work with fantastic people.  Within a year, the company began to struggle and I found myself laid off with many others.  What a BLOW that was to my ego. 

In 2000, a partially Enron-owned consultancy company relocated me to Houston for a big job with more blue chip clients working in a hot technology space.   I won't finish this story because you all know how it ended.  This time, my ego was more prepared for the loss.

A few years later, I found myself working for a private firm, and one day was told "You're fired."  Another new low for the ego...

I am half way into this post and you're probably wondering, 'wow, she's got quite the record.'  

I do.  I've been laid off and fired.  I've had to lay off and fire others.  These are life experiences...real losses people don't like to talk about or share.  I do because often people want to know the secrets for getting through these kinds of situations.  Two things to take note:  

1.  We all go through personal and professional loss.  People don't want to tell you about their failures.  They want to tell you about their success.  I've failed plenty.  I've not been chosen or the most popular.  But you have to fail in order to succeed, and you have to pick yourself. 


2.  What has helped me through these transitions?  Connect.  Don't Network.  What does that mean?  It means know people.  Know their stuff.  Connect with them.  Networking, in my book is a dirty word.  It feels slimy like someone is trying to get me to buy something.  When you connect with people for no purpose other than to learn from them, and them from you, you begin to develop meaning in your relationships that can be leveraged when you do need something.

"I'm too busy working" and "That's just not my thing" are not valid excuses.  In fact they are complete copouts.   It doesn't take much to set up a coffee or lunch.   It doesn't take much to read an article, find someone interesting online, and connect with the people behind those data bytes.  Make the time.

In fact, tomorrow's post is courtesy of my own courage to connect.  We'll be hearing from Trish Morrison, MomCom Life founder whom I met on Twitter.  (Gasp! Yes, real people DO exist on the internet!)

What are you doing today to connect?  How has connecting first, helped you learn, grow and through tough times?

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