Do you have a network?

I’m in a transitional phase in my career, not content in my day job I need to find one that will push my boundaries and ultimately allow me to pursue my ideal career of being a writer.

I turned to a “self-help” book for inspiration after seeing it listed in The Book Club monthly leaflet.  I’m not usually a fan of self-help books.  Everyone is different and we all need different types of encouragement to push us forward at different points in our life.  The last thing you want is to read a “self-help” book to find some smug author who has everything you want pointing out your bad mistakes.  Fortunately for me I chose well.

The book is written by a successful business woman and is filled with advice (which to me sounds good) for how to get ahead and reach the top in the business world.  I’m not sure I ever wanted to be head of a multinational company or that I ever will be but the advice she gives has spurred me on nonetheless.

One chapter is dedicated to building networks.  She advises woman to build mutually beneficial networks of people who you can call on when you need help and advice.  These people should be well thought out and answer your calls, texts or emails pretty much straight away due to the fact they do not want to lose you from their network.

I sat down and thought about it.  I have been working for 17 years and in that time I have made work friends, people who you socialise with in and around work but wouldn’t spend time with in a personal capacity.  I have also connected with a few people who I have continued to meet in a personal capacity, although they no longer respond to my emails and texts.  The people I currently work with are mostly male and although we are a happy team at work and we occasionally socialise together if I left I can’t see many of them staying in touch.

I have a network of people I met through attending concerts.  They live all over the world and we use social media to stay in touch.  Most if not all of them would respond to a message from me, maybe not instantly but eventually due to time zones.  Whilst this keeps me in the loop it doesn’t help me when I want to call someone to go for a drink or indeed if I need help with a career introduction.

So what do I have left?  Old school friends?  Most of the people I went to school with I would avoid like the plague if I ever met them again.  I have a couple of old friends I stay in touch with but they are married with kids now and that means they can’t drop everything to go out.

Maybe where I went wrong was not making more of the opportunities I was given.  I needed to take down names, attend events that sounded boring and make myself known.  I am not naturally confident with meeting new people.  I eventually get talking to people but walking alone into a room of people I don’t know is not me.  Or should that be wasn’t really me?

In going to the Players Dinner I really missed a trick.  Those sorts of events are filled with people who are potential network members.  You have to pay for the privilege of getting in the room with these people but once you are there you have to make it count.  Maybe I should be looking at attending more of these sorts of functions and if not attending; working for the company who organises them or volunteering to help!

I think if I am really going to forge ahead with the next phase in my life I need a new motto to go with it.  Maybe something along the lines of “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Someone actually gave me that advice when I was struggling to decide whether to travel to America for a concert with people I barely knew.  What happened?  I had a crazy time, met some nice people, went to a fantastic concert, saw some of the US and came home all in the space of 4 days!  It was my do something crazy before you turn 30 moment.  Do I regret it?  Not for a second, I still think back and wonder where I got the confidence to do it and wish I did a couple of things differently but I don’t regret doing it.

Now I just need to find that confidence again to push forward, make a strong network, find a new career and ultimately see my name in print one day!

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