At times a late adopter, I binge watched this summer HBO's Veep with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Not confirming or denying that I may not have left the house for one week while I became current reaching the end of Season 3, I love everything about this comedy and the clever, funny, incisive, and insightful characters that give the show dimension. Dan Egan, played by actor Reid Scott, tops my favorites list not just because he's such a nugget. This ambitious communications underling trying to back stab his way to the top adds humor and humanity to the millions in real life clawing their way in the D.C.s, New Yorks, L.A.s, or Silicon Valleys of the world (Those who roll in this set can lack self-awareness. At dinner this summer, one said: you can tell when Tammy Haddad started consulting for Veep. The characters stopped being so mean. And then I choked on my Prosecco). In Season 3, Dan Egan runs into former flame, boss, and competitor Veep chief of staff Amy while both are schmoozing on the down low. His answer when she confronts him?
You need to network, to get work.
Nothing funny or fictional about these words. Rather, they are pearls of wisdom. We know this to be true. But for how many us:
Networking has gone by the wayside.
We are too busy keeping up with our daily tasks, we don't have time.
We've become complacent with our current network we've cultivated.
Even though networking--why you do it to advance your career and when you do, how to blow the doors off--is central to the mentoring I offer my interns, I'm guilty of having committed all the above offenses.
Despite what the headlines suggest, many Americans, especially millennials and young men of color, are still in a personal economic recession. Instead of waiting for a company to hire you or a government report to tout some tone deaf GDP number, network smartly and with purpose.
Viviana's 3 Tips to "Network to Get Work"
- Identify your affinities: To what networks do you already belong? Alumni groups, state associations, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) organized around ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, and veteran status--even social activities such as my running group--are where you can find professionals with whom you have a natural connection. An affinity can be the ice breaker to begin cultivating a relationship that could develop into a job lead or professional recommendation. Read Career: 4 Reasons to Start Utilize Your Alumni Networks for great pointers.
- Get a Mentor, and Yes, That May Mean Asking Her to Be Yours: As I write in Audio: 4 of My Mentor-Seeking Mistakes You Should Avoid on NPR, not having a mentor is the single most detrimental factor in my career development. While I have had guardian angels, madrinas, and padrinos, a mentor, unlike our career fairy god parents are invested not just during moments, but for the long haul. Click on Video: Career: You, Inc. to watch my video interview with Daisy Auger-Domínguez (during the interview she was at Time Warner, Daisy is now the Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Organization & Workforce for the Disney TV Group) where she explains how to not just secure a mentor, but assemble a board of directors of advisors, sponsors, and mentors who together can help guide your professional and even personal development.
- Network intelligently: Nothing bugs me more than when I hear from someone only when she needs something. Do you reach out every month or a couple of times a year? Do you send a note about your mentor's interests, field, or something related to her kids? It's not rocket science but basic psychology: make someone fall in love with you and nurture that relationship. Nurture your relationship so that in the words of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, your mentor will be more apt to "lean in" when you need her to.
Like all the Veep characters, Dan Egan makes us laugh. But with these words, he casts insight and an action item you can add to network intelligently to advance your career. Within reach, delete it from the socializing and add it to your strategy category.
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xo ~ Viviana