Meaningful connections are more than being a casual acquaintance, but instead come from about cultivating relationships. This is done through actions. People are always watching the balance in your "Emotional Bank Account" (Think Steven Covey). When you operate in the mode of "self" it becomes your brand.
Below is a letter that was never sent, but maybe it should have been. The author of this fictional note is remaining anonymous (by her choice and mine), but I imagine this scenario is not only real, but is played out time and time again. The writer is a busy mom and also has a full-time job. Her employer allows her great flexibility - including the ability to work from home or from her family's cabin on a lake.
She did not get this freedom in her career by accident. She has an amazing reputation in her industry and is one hell of a networker. Her employer knows they have a winner and they worked hard to make the overall package meet her needs. She is regularly approached by people who are curious about how to land a job that allows this kind of leeway, and is always told that she is "lucky". It is not luck that she spent 20 years building a network and professional brand! It was an intentional set of actions.
Recently she has been approached by several people who want to tap into her network to find new jobs. She loves to help, but is tired of the takers who line up to "get" but rarely "give". She is always polite, but would love to hit "send" on the following email:
It was great to catch up with you at the 5th grade musical last night. Your little Jimmy is very talented; I can’t believe he’ll be in middle school next year either.
And now you’re going to go back to work, too. Terrific! I can certainly understand how conflicted you are; it has been wonderful to be home with the kids these last 14 years but, on the other hand, you feel like you should work so you can put some money away for Jimmy and Johnny’s college and also to bring in extra money for yourself and the family.
It makes perfect sense to reach out to those people you know who work and who might have job leads for you, especially the other "mommies", because we’re all the same. Sort of.
Let’s review. There were lots of school moms who carpooled with to soccer, dance, and softball. But you weren’t one of them because you didn’t want to accept responsibility for someone else’s child. There were some moms who covered my volunteer spots when I stayed home with a feverish child or had an impromptu business trip. You couldn’t because of your yoga class. There were a handful of moms thoughtful enough to ask my kids over for playdates on teacher in-service days, thinking ahead that I might have to work (even though the kids were off school). But you weren’t one of those, either. You were, however, someone who asked if we could donate a week at our lake house to the school auction.
And that was your choice. Now it’s my choice to demonstrate a reluctance to help you find a job because you have never made any effort to be more than a casual acquaintance over the last 14 years.
Again, I want you to find a job. A good job. One with a short commute, convenient hours and that you find fulfilling. But, I have to give you a hard dose of reality and tell you that I’m not going to help you find a job because, although I’ve enjoyed our chit-chat conversations, I’ve received nothing from our relationship to indicate that it’s mutually beneficial. What goes around comes around, sister.
Your acquaintance Stephanie
Have A Great Day.