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The Gift of Networking

What is the most valuable gift a job seeker can give someone? One that will last a lifetime, bring a smile to the receiver, and even score points at St. Peter’s gate. It costs little and grows in value over time. Yet, those who can give it seem so reluctant to offer the gift. What’s the gift? Job Networking.

Growing up, I had a remarkable friend who could find me a date at 5:30 on a Friday night, and a cute one to boot. When I remind Jimmy of his teenage exploits, a smile instantly appears, and I know I have made his day. 

Growing older, I noticed that the primary goal of women was to fix up a girlfriend with a guy. If the date lead to marriage, the woman scored big time. Ask any women you know if they love fixing up singles, and see if you don’t receive an “absolutely.”

If you have ever helped someone get a job you know the feeling I am describing. People love helping out friends and even friends of friends. The name of  someone you have helped is already in your consciousness by now. Maybe it was a phone call or a suggestion or just forwarding a resume. If you have ever received a thank you call from someone you helped in his/her most insecure moment, the job search, you never forget it. Not only do you feel good about yourself, you are now aware of a new strength in yourself. Most of us enjoy the feeling so much, we want to do it again. It truly is a great gift from the job seeker to the networker.

Yet, in my job ministry and my career development classes, I find that this gift is hoarded rather than freely shared. How do I know this? I’ve spoken with un-employed people at my church and in the marketplace who know what I do and won’t ever mention their situation. Sad.

 Most un-employed people are hesitant to ask for help in their job search. Even in the face of the fact that 85% of all jobs are found through networking. I hear excuses such as, “why would they help me?”, or “I barely know them”, “they are too busy to bother”, or when honesty sneaks out, “I am embarrassed to tell them of my situation.”

When I ask them if they ever fixed up a friend or helped another person in a tough spot, the light bulb slowly goes off. I then hit them with my tough love statement, “OK, given how you feel right now, why are YOU so selfish to DENY someone else that same feeling?” Stops them in their tracks and occasionally puts them back in the gift giving business.

So whenever the voice of negativity plants seeds of doubt in your job search, remember that you have a gift that only YOU can give someone. Make their day, and maybe their life by giving them that call.

Of course, my Lord taught me this important job searching technique: “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[1] And He knows about giving.


[1] Luke 6:38, NIV Bible

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