Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Networking Is Hard

Or rather, it's hard for me.  I'm an introvert.  (What's that snickering I hear??? Yes, an introvert.  I'm most comfortable by myself or with a small group of people.  It takes me a while to open up. I promise.)  And introverts aren't drawn to careers that require networking.  But in this day in age, just GETTING a job requires a significant amount of networking.  It's not all about what you know, but about who you know.  Especially in commercial real estate.

One of the huge advantages of continuing to work while getting my MBA is that I have been able to make connections and learn about the industry I'm passionate about.  From the brokers that I work with and the people I've been introduced to, I should know where to go to look for a job by now.  I've been preparing for this for the last eighteen months. 

But when push comes to shove, and I'm a mere five months away from graduating with my fancy degree and needing an even fancier job, I'm having a hard time calling on those connections.  That requires emails, asking for things, putting myself out there and having difficult (and possibly akward) conversations about my least favorite topic of discussion - ME. 

But somehow, I have to make it happen.  I can't waste this moment because it will never come around again.  I've wasted enough time getting here, and I have the perfect opportunity to really propel my career forward.  I'm in the driver's seat because I have a job and a whole slew of people cheering me on.  So despite my hesitations and fears, I'm writing those emails.  I'm making time to talk to new connections and giving my resume to anyone who will take it. 

And this isn't just a business school lesson, it's a life lesson.  Hopefully I can translate all this hard work (in school, at work, with friends) into a really great opportunity.  My issue is really the name.  Networking has a negative connotation in that it infers (at least in my mind) someone using another.  Everytime I think of the word, I picture a bunch of corporate stiffs in awful cheap suits, swilling happy hour wine and scarfing cheap appetizers on little napkins.  When that's not what it's about at all.  It's truly about relationships.  Making friends.  And I seem to that easily enough.   I can definitely drink happy hour cocktails with the best of them.  Maybe this isn't so hard after all. 

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