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By Brent Peterson, Elizabeth Nelson, Ph.D. and Darwin Hanson

Aim your career. Think about what type of impact you want to make and point your career direction towards that light.        

Seek alignment.  Consider your values and the culture of the organization you chose to join ensuring alignment of the two.

Network. Networking opens doors to experience and education which gives you the keys to build skills, knowledge and abilities. 


The schematic above shows a long career, some 40 years, meandering and culminating with impact.  That impact could mean different things to different people but ultimately since we spend nearly 40% of our waking hours during our working years in our career this should be something that matters deeply to you.  The three means or energy sources that keep your career moving is networking, gaining experience and education, and building skills.  We’ll focus this time on networking that opens doors, or in other words authentic networking.


Networking has long been in the vernacular of career development but doing it authentically and with social network theory applied; now that is something different and all together more powerful.  The importance of authentic networking was impressed upon me at a recent seminar at Wharton about social networks and their importance in understanding who is driving value at work.  Research using network maps is now finding its way into organizations that are tapping into big data to show who the key players are, and they are often not the same as the org chart would indicate.  These “cosmopolitans” term coined by Wharton management professor Lori Rosenkopf, are routinely go to people in the organization sought for advice and partnership due to their authentic value and networking.  Combine social network theory with a related trend of alternative organizational structures such as Gary Hamel’s Humanocracry described in his recent book, titled the same.  Hamel, a bellwether for organizational trends and creating them, is speaking directly to leaders and employees that bureaucracy stifles innovation and reduces the impact employees can make.  Both of these point to the importance of building strong connections that provide the networker fuel for their career journey.  The fuel can come in many forms: cooperation on projects, opening doors for new opportunities, teaching them something important and pure human energy.


Short Story:
Rob Scott, HR Professional, was faced with moving from CA to MD to accompany his spouse that had accepted a great position.  This is what he had to say about authentic networking. 

"Embarking on a job change no matter what the reason or phase of your career is not an easy journey.  My journey was successful in landing a great role, and here's what I believed contributed to my success:

  1. I decided up front to be myself, comfortable in my own 56 year old skin with thinning white hair.  If I can do this anyone can!  Confidence gave me a genuine smile and agility in conversation.
  2. I was able to tell my story in 2 minutes without boring the hell out of those interviewing me.  I described my value through accomplishments, decisions I thoughtfully made along the way, and what I was looking for in my next opportunity.
  3. I utilized job boards but reached out to my network and continued to build my network.  I was rejected by automated recruiting systems, and ultimately the role I accepted was from a lead that came from a referral from my network.
  4. I was patient but relentless spending at least 3-4 hours a day on the search for five months.  When I encountered less than impressive recruiters, HR or managers; I shook it off and kept going. 
Landing the right job is hard work and requires focus, patience and your network.“

A way to think about a career is to aim it toward a destination or the light while aligning your values to the culture of the organizations you choose to join.  The means that moves you to the light is your network that opens the doors, that allows you to gain the experiences you need, that builds your skills.  

If you have something to share please send us an email and we may use it in a future issue.
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