Building Your Future Career Foundation

Career Foundation

I recently read a post from Ittybiz that made me think about my own career. 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Have A Cushion Before You Quit Your Job. I am currently working at a job that’s not my perfect fit, but I still get a lot out of the experience. I’ve thought about quitting and just making a go of speaking and writing about work happiness, but I’m not ready. I know that it’s my dream; I’m just in need of a little more seasoning before I go out on my own. I also need more support from other people in my life. It’s not the fault of the people that are currently in my life, but the need to add people who can open doors for my career.

Your uncle in the cardboard box business isn’t going to help you find those freelance writing gigs that you’ve been trying to land or introduce you to the CEO of your ultimate company. You need to connect with people who have influence in your field. That means being the persistent giver that loves to help others.

Personal Story to Cement My Point

When my wife finished her student teaching, unofficially graduating from college, she went back to work for that teacher for free. At first I was like, “What are you doing? Go enjoy your summer,” but after talking to her and understanding her goals I began to understand her wise choice. The teacher wanted to move into school administration. Nikki kept her face and hard work ethic right in front of that teacher’s eyes. When the teacher decided to leave, she recommended Nikki for the position. The principal didn’t even consider any other candidates.

Career Enhancers Radar

You need to put yourself on the radar of the people who can help you. If that means sending a hand written note with a little present that doesn’t cost more than a few bucks, so be it. If that means doing a little extra work so you stand out from the crowd, so what if you lose out on a weekend or two.

It’s about building a network that will support you during tough and good times. Without it you’ll be a lonely coconut just hanging on and hoping not to fall before you are ready. Find those other coconuts, join their clump, but don’t be afraid to switch clumps when you need more help and always keep in touch with those other clumps with a phone call or an email. If you do fall, your old group may be able to send down a monkey to bring you back into the tree for a little more seasoning.

That’s why I have to respectfully disagree with Naomi that you just need to quit your job. I think you need to build a network of people who can help you find clients, investors, and connections that will beget success. I do agree that there will never be a perfect time. Quitting your job will force you to make connections that you never would have tried to make if it weren’t for some pressure. Yes, you will need to take the leap if you want to own your own business, sooner is better than later, otherwise you’ll just look back on your life wishing that you took that chance to work for yourself. But don’t do it without a support system from people in the industry in which you want to work, otherwise you’ll be floundering for air, begging for a job instead of being confident in each meeting.

How many trusted people do you truly believe are in your network that will help your career? What do you do to foster these relationships?

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Image courtesy of Steffe

Comments

  1. Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. Hi Karl,

    What Nikki did was brilliant. She knew what she wanted, where she wanted to go and how to get there.

    I used to have a boss who called me “Radar”. He said I always knew what he would need even before he knew he needed it. I took that as a compliment.

    Your questions have me thinking, but I don’t have an answer. Yet.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Choices Equal Consequences

  3. Karl,

    I couldn’t agree more. A good network is always needed, espedially in these trying times. I’m doing volunteer work with people who are returning to work after a long period of time, have no network, and have to start from scratch. It’s not easy. I will share this with them.

    Ric’s last blog post..Evaluate the Internal and External Rewards of a Job or Career When Making a Change

  4. You’re absolutely right, Karl…

    “It’s about building a network that will support you during tough and good times. Without it you’ll be a lonely coconut just hanging on and hoping not to fall before you are ready.”

    In this day and age, it’s not enough to be talented at something; it’s also about who you know and what sorts of connections you’ve made with people. If you plan on living your life as a hermit and isolating yourself from everyone else, there’s a good chance that you won’t get very far. I agree that as you grow and develop in your career and want to move on and continue your growth, you do have to branch out and make other connections without neglecting those people who helped you in the past. It’s like that old adage, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold”…

  5. Hey Barbara, I would take radar as a compliment too because that means you are in tune with the people you work with.

    Hey Janelle, good point. We need to keep our new friends close and our old friends even closer. Even if they can’t help us with our careers in the next year or two that’s fine, but maybe five years from now they might be a big help.

  6. Hi Karl

    I don’t know whether there is a single answer to this. In my own case, I just walked away from school teaching without anything except some vague ides to go to (though I had saved up quite a bit of money.)

    It worked for me – but many people would not be willing to put up with the lack of money and resources I had for years. I definitely needed to do it this way, looking back.

    Robin’s last blog post..Reincarnation… A Scenario

  7. Hey Robin, you did what was best for you. It looks like it worked out. From reading your blog you seem very happy.

    Hey Ric, thanks for sharing this blog post with your clients. Word of mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising that there is.

  8. You’ve hit upon a very important point Karl – the importance of people in our lives. And that networking isn’t just adding people to your Rolodex. It’s about genuinely helping people so that when you have a need, they are there for you. Nikki did an awesome job at this, and the benefit was huge. That’s a great example of the power of genuine networking.

    Lance’s last blog post..Sometimes You Just Have to Take That Leap

  9. Karl,
    I totally understand your point. I have a full time job which is ok but it’s not my dream job. I’m also building a side business on speaking and teaching and it takes an awful lot of time and effort.

    Sometimes I think it would be great to just quit to force myself to develop the business faster.

    Yet other times you just wonder because having your own business is not easy either, especially when you’re the sole breadwinner at home.

    Just quitting comes at the perfect time for each of us. Sometimes we quit, others we’re fired or downsized. And others just find contentment in doing their jobs as employees.

    To me it comes down to timing, desire and a safety net.

    Claudia

    Claudia’s last blog post..To ban or not to ban

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  11. Your advice about needing a support network before quitting your job is spot on. Aside from being a source of leads, potential business, or even direct financial assistance if you should pursue your own venture, your support network will help you through the psychological dark times we often face without the nebulous security of a regular paycheck.

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