Invictus–and networking

July 11, 2011

This weekend, I watched the majority of the movie Invictus, with Matt Damon.  It is about the South African Rugby team in 1995 and how Nelson Mandela worked with the team to help unite the country.  The title is based upon a poem that Mandela found inspiring  and read to other prisoners during his incarceration.  The poem is by W.E. Henley–the entire poem is wonderful, but the last two lines are the most quoted:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This resonated with me, not because I can compare my job search with such awesome feats as overcoming prejudice or an illness, but because it is so true that you can control to some extent how your life progresses while also recognizing what you are and are not.  You can overcome whatever may be holding you back in your job search by looking to some others in the field and utilizing well-known networking tips to assist you.

Networking is somewhat hard for me, because although I am pretty outgoing, I feel very shy when meeting people I don’t know, particularly when I know no one.  I had a good conversation with my brother-in-law last week and we discussed the importance of networking and how it can enhance your job search experience in many ways.

First of all, you have nothing to lose.  Contacting people in your field only gives you more exposure to skills, work conditions, and opportunities in a company, market or geographical area.  Getting information is always a plus (“knowledge is power”).  Second, people are generally very happy to provide you with insight and advice (I have found this particularly true with librarians, as we tend to love to help people!). People like to talk about their experiences with others and be listened to.  Third, it also helps give you personal exposure in your field, especially if, like me, your contacts tend to be in two different states (not the one you currently live in!)   Fourth, outside of job searching, you may meet a new friend in someone who shares the same interests in libraries and information that you do.  You never know what may lead to an opportunity.

I found these sites below helpful to think about when beginning your networking journey: 

http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_12_Tips_for_Shy_People?page=1&taxonomyId=3127

http://www.rwn.org/Misc.asp

http://www.jhu.edu/careers/students/handouts/networking.pdf

 These are the tips I am starting with as I begin my networking journey:
1. Come up with a brief summary (elevator speech?) about my career–not something that I really “read”, but something that will help me to hone and summarize what my career has been so far;
2. Why I am transitioning (short, and to the point–my husband’s tranfer);
3. My future: what am I looking for?  What do I want out of a new position? 
4. Ask questions–something as simple as what they recommend or what skills or other fields would I be a fit for?

I am also going to keep in mind that I need to be assertive–something that is more of a struggle for me than the actual networking.

This week I am going to work at being the “master of my fate.”

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