2009 Mistake #1

December 9, 2009

With it being down to the last month of 2009, I’ve started (early) with planning things for how I want to improve my career moving into next year. Strange thing has been that I’ve never really thought like this before since I’m NOT a new years resolution-type person. I think the difference has been that I have gained some perspective in many areas. And as a result of seeing where I’ve made good progress, I’ve also been able to see some of my main areas of improvement which I think should be next on my radar.

The one that really stands out is networking.

Its funny because I look back to the start of this year: In February I went to my first continuing education event, and looking back I realize just how “green behind the ears” I was there. As much as I tried, my introverted nature still managed to creep up even though I managed to make some good contacts and have some good coversations. I came back feeling like I had accomplished a little, but not as much as I wanted. Another question I has upon my return was, “Now what?” — I wasn’t geographically close to many of those I’d like to network with, so how I could I prove to them that they should let me in on their inner circle? (hint = foreshadowing)

Needless to say I quickly got discouraged because my efforts weren’t working, and this discouragement lasted until probably 3 or 4 weeks ago — just shortly after I began my new job where I was virtually out on my own. Since that light switch went on in my brain, I’ve been motivated to make progress in this area in the next year — but the “I-want-everything-now” generation member that I am felt like why shouldn’t I just get a head start on 2010 in late 2009, so here I am. Here’s the thing though: I’ve stopped looking at networking as I have to prove myself to leapfrog over someone else to be worthy of networking with others. (Yes, this statement reaks of past insecurities, self-esteem-type issues). What else is strange to me is that I didn’t have to consciously change my mindset when I started realizing this; it just sort of happened naturally.

From many professionals I’ve heard of the abundance vs scarcity mindset, and what I realized was in the past I had a scarcity mindset when it came to networking: If I network with someone, that means someone else can’t be in their network. Or: I have to prove I’m smarter than someone they already know, to start getting into that person’s network. What it was was me putting myself before everything else and thinking that someone had to lose for me to “win” — no wonder it didn’t work, I think I sound like a jerk while writing this!! Of course, I’m very happy that I have seen the error of my ways and have been surprised with the little effort it took to adopt an abundance mindset instead.

Since I’ve changed my viewpoint, I have really enjoyed the process of starting to get to know people in my field. Even though its over the internet, I consider it a start — I’m no longer trying to hit that networking home run the first time I contact someone. Also, my approach is now focused on the other person. So instead of trying to sound as smart as I possibly can in the hopes of scoring enough brownie-points, my efforts have been about trying to add some benefit to the person I’m contacting: whether it is appreciating a job they did or how something they wrote helped me re-think a part of my program, etc. At the end of the day I now have something that is allowing me to enjoy this process rather than be overwhelmed by it. Though I wish I could’ve realized this even earlier in my career, I am happy that I’ve come to this realization now rather than later as it has given me one more challenge and one more thing to look forward to in the coming year!! CB