May 11, 2006

Naturally Networking

    There is a lot of information out there about how to go about getting a cool job. There are tons of books, thousands of websites, and billions of people with jobs that could clue me in as to how to go about it. Now that I'm in this game, I've been sampling enough of those resources to discover that 99% of them share one piece of advice that I didn't want to hear. They almost universally say the most important thing is "networking." I hate that term. It sounds so cold and calculating, like you're treating people as opportunities rather than humans. I want my dream job, of course, but I worry that I don't have it in me to be like that term sounds.

    After the trip I went to Massachusetts to visit with my former boss and friend, who started asking about what I wanted to do now. After I talked a bit, he mentioned that he had a few friends that were doing cool related stuff in Colorado and asked if I'd like to speak with them. Hell yeah! This can't be networking though, it is just taking up a good friend on the offer of a favor, right?

    Speaking of friends, last weekend, I had a chance to connect with a couple old pals. Shawn came out from California to visit Tim and I, and we had a long merry weekend. It started with a visit to the Coors brewery in Golden Colorado, proceeded through a couple wild nights, and finally ended up on a pleasant Sunday afternoon in the park; Shawn teaching me a little Cappoeria while Tim sprinted continuously for an hour and half in his amateur soccer league.

    I've known Tim for longer than almost any non-family member. He has been living in Denver for most of this millennium. The two of us have some remarkable similarities. We were both: born in Colorado, moved to Guilderland, NY in time for middle school (where we met), love cycling, love the outdoors, are handy with math/science stuff and care about environmental issues. We even kind of look alike, a description of one of us given to the police would get us both in the lineup. It's no wonder we ended up friends. The similarities, however, don't end there. Tim is graduating this weekend with a degree in building systems engineering, his focus on sustainable design and energy efficiency. This, oddly enough, is almost exactly what I did in school. So now we are both looking for the same sort of job in the same region at the same time.

    If I really was a cold hearted networking machine I suppose it'd be a good time to end the friendship and engage in a ruthless competition. But, we're just too good of friends, so instead we've decided to use eachother as respective resources towards our common goals. It is, thus far, the coolest thing that's happened to me in this whole job search. I studied what I did in school because I earnestly believe that it'll be up to my generation of engineers to use appropriate technology to save us from ecological woes. The fact that someone whose intelligence and passion I've respected since middle school came to the identical conclusion is profoundly validating. And, honestly, I'm sure there will be jobs for us both. The earth needs all the help she can get right now.

    So, job hunting is no longer as lonely as it was a couple weeks ago. Now I've got someone to swap leads with, read over resumes, and empathize with the ups and downs of the search. And one day, hopefully soon, we'll both be hired somewhere spiffy and each have the other as an ally doing something related nearby.

Wait a gosh darn second.
Is "Networking" just a fancy word for friends?
Micah and Shawn

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:19 PM

    Interestingly enough I am reading an article about the phenomenon of "weak ties." This is the "networking" you are referring to. Change the word and it sounds like something else. The old idea of "networking" that turns you off is the idea of "it's not what you know, but who you know," meaning that you have to know rich and powerful people. The reality is that you have a better chance of hearing about a good job if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone that can hook you with the right people. So yes, networking is just having friends with friends. It's all basic sociology. Good stuff. It's not about an exclusive society. You are the society. Meeting people isn't a sin. Get out there and make more friends and your chances of getting a job will be greater. Good luck.