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An end of the endless year gift from me: a short post and the chance to win one of 10 copies of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World over on Goodreads.

A new year is on the horizon, and the multitude of ways we’ve struggled in our efforts to meaningfully connect this past year — well, those aren’t going away any time soon. 2020 has changed us. Who we meet and how has entered a new dynamic. The ability to make meaningful connections using digital tools is critical (as I’ve been saying for some time). …

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Well. Seems that humans are not the only social “creatures” who benefit from peer networks. Researchers at Georgetown University and Duke University report that young dolphins need to “network” with their peers — to socialize, forge bonds and learn skills that will make them successful adult dolphins (success = survival strategies!).

Peer networks are typically overlooked or reluctantly embraced in our hyper-competitive world, rather than being viewed as a source of support and competitive advantage.

If someone stopped you to ask “what’s most important to you right now?” you’d likely list friends, colleagues, classmates, co-workers — — you’d say relationships when competition for a job, promotion or other recognition could beg to differ. Actions speak louder than sentimental statements. …

The title of a Harvard Business Review piece (“Entrepreneurs, Look to Your Network to Help You Through the Pandemic”) caught my attention (in a “YES! HBR is speaking my #BYDN language way) this past week. A brief moment of enthusiasm….as in the end, I may have liked the article’s title more than some of the lessons shared. First off, I wish the authors IMHO had reinforced how the entrepreneurial networks highlighted in the piece did not simply “emerge” at the moment of a nationwide lockdown. The networks were established well before COVID19 (two years in one instance) and over that time span, the entrepreneurs had interacted, participated in formal programming and created an informal mechanism to stay connected (i.e. WhatsApp group). …

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Your, my, everybody’s most valuable asset.

It’s why you need to invest YOUR time before asking for someone else’s time (or their contacts and smarts).

For the past 3 weeks on Monday and Tuesday morning, I’ve been up, camera-ready and on Zoom for 5:15 am, talking networking with participants in the Bright Networks Internship Experience UK initiative. I should add, willingly and enthusiastically up to present at that hour. Why? Why give my time freely to this organization and these students? Because they are investing their time in their future careers. …

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Now is definitely not the time for setting hard, fast, “I must achieve” goals. I’m not saying ditch the ambition to work for a specific company or to start your career in a particular industry or with a certain title — just, chill on the career dogma that perhaps held true, for some folks pre: 2020.

COVID19 has turned planning, projections, goal-setting on its head — ’cause we just don’t know, and when everything in uncertain, unfamiliar, murky, in disarray, the goals set in earlier, more predictable BC times (before COVID) are somewhat, though not completely useless.

So rather than fixating on goals which rely on certainty (then delving into the depressing impossibility of achieving them as nothing is certain right now), try this instead: focus on values, principles, and learnings. Values, principles and learnings will keep you headed toward your ultimate goal (note, I said early to stop fixating on goals, I didn’t suggest dropping or ditching them altogether). Looking through the lens of values, principles and learnings will open your eyes to alternatives, curvy, unusual uniquely creative solutions, rather than madly grasping to the slippery false certainty of “I must do A in order to achieve B”.

An example of why I’m focused on values, principles and learnings.

A student reached out to me following a webinar I conducted last week. She has her heart set on working for one particular media and entertainment company. The lack of communication from on-campus recruiters (who she was previously in touch with) has understandably, caused the student some duress. What to do? …

…because it’s ok to allow the snow globe to settle.
…because life is a whirlwind.
…because your crazy matters.

John Waire, documentary photographer

Ah, the snow globe. It’s a perfect visual of our lives. Vigorously shaking a situation — checking email incessantly — continuously scrolling social media — seeking a different outcome or result, rather than breathing in the pause to see where things settle.

Insert a pause (if you can) this week. Let your efforts over the past few weeks just float out there, curiously watch to see where they are landing, naturally. …

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Short, Sweet With No Assumptions

An email this week, illustrating with simplicity, how to facilitate an introduction — which I’m passing along as yes, as you’re madly searching social media sites for business leads or insider introductions to boost a job application, it becomes “easy” just to seek or make an introduction without asking the other person first.

Here’s the email template I’d suggest (politely and strongly) you follow — as this one, lead to a meaningful conversation:

Hi Kelly,

I hope you’re doing as well as can be in these strange times, and are safe and healthy!

#BYDN note + editorial suggestion: Quick Intro acknowledging the current state of affairs. Perhaps could have been improved with a little personalization, gathered from a glance at my recent social media postings, but no biggie. …

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The global pandemic effectively disrupted the economic structure of multiple industries resulting in thousands of furloughed and laid-off professionals. Overnight, many employment positions and opportunities vanished, and even more are threatened.

In this segment of LUMA Partner WFH Webinar series, I join Terence Kawaja for an in-depth discussion on approaches to career change or transition strategies in times of crisis (whether you’re furloughed, actively searching or contemplating making a career move in the future).

Discover why showing up for your network has always mattered (now, more than ever before), the right way to tap into your network for help (no, it’s not asking for a job) and how to thank someone in your network who makes intros or provides valuable career advice.

Give your career a regular boost! Get Build Your Dream Network insights in your inbox.

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Pre-COVID19 I worked from home, the only transformation in my living/work environment since March 14 has been the rearrangement of the artwork off the walls and the number of sticky notes that have replaced them. Lots and lots of networking questions asked — as in a world held together by digital tools, we are reminded daily how very much we need our networks, perhaps more so than ever before.

If it’s any consolation, you are not alone right now. Regardless of age, title, industry, years of experience, lots of folks are seeking answers to the very same networking questions.

As a result, this post (originally sent out to my email list) is link-filled, resource rich — a bit overwhelming perhaps, but take it networking question by networking question. And why yes, I’ve even noted how long podcast episodes are cause yes (massive groan) the mere hint of an hour long podcast episode exhausts me. That being said, this week’s episode of the Build Your Dream Network podcast is 19 minutes in length — it’s another pre-quarantine recording, an in depth interview with my friend Marci Weisler on her planned, workforce re-entry (after a decade of consulting, she took a J.O.B.). Learn how she approached the search as an experienced professional, why she worked with a coach and how she tapped her network. …


J. Kelly Hoey

networking expert, podcast host and author of “Build Your Dream Network”

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