I have always been a big proponent of having a professional network of contacts. While some people do not understand why someone should invest the time and money in networking, I know that it is worth the effort. I believe that many good things come out of interacting with other business people. Sometimes these benefits are immediate, other times it may take time to come to fruition. Sometimes the pay off for me is evident, but often times the rewards do not even directly impact my life....but can have a huge impact for other people.
About a year ago I met with the husband of a co-worker who was in the United States military. He was about to ship out for a tour of duty in Iraq, and would not return until the following spring. Upon his return, he would be leaving the army and would need to find his first civilian job since graduating college. Matt was a sharp young man and a dedicated soldier. Newly married, he was obviously concerned about finding a job upon his return. We talked briefly about his options and I promised to offer any assistance once he got home from the war.
Matt returned safely and completed his obligation to his country. His wife mentioned that he was home, and would soon be seeking employment, and again I offered to help. At the time I figured I could offer some advice and maybe introduce him to some of the people in my network. I had no idea if I would be able to help him out in any direct manner.
This is where "networking" comes in to play. In early March I had coffee with my friend Michael. Michael is an entrepreneur who knows a lot of people. While at Starbucks, a friend of Michael's, Rod, came in for his morning latte. He joined us in our conversation. We were talking about general stuff, and at some point I casually mentioned that I knew a soldier who was back from Iraq and looking for a job. Rod mentioned a friend that worked for a national recruiting company which specializes in helping military officers transition to careers in the private sector. He gave me the person's name and phone number and I passed this information along to Matt's wife, Lisa.
At this point I was out of the loop. A month later I changed jobs. I had not crossed paths with Matt or Lisa until this morning. When I saw my former co-worker I asked her how Matt was doing with his job search. As it turned out, he did call the recruiter that Rod had told me about, and had scheduled a meeting. The guy was so impressed with Matt that he hired him to work for the recruiting company!
So there you have it... Networking works! Everything I believe to be true about how having a network should operate came through in this case.
Wait, you ask,.....how did networking "work" if nothing came out of it for me? First, for networking to be powerful you have to make it all about helping the other person. Therefore it did "work". Second, what a great feeling I having knowing that I helped, in some small way, a former soldier find his new career. I view those who serve our country in the military as true heroes. To help out a hero? That is a great feeling. So in the end, he has a job, and I feel great for having been of assistance. Win-win.
Have a great day.