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Networking or schmoozing?

Editor's note:

When it comes to what our members want most from NEHA, at the very top of the list is career assistance, particularly in the area of finding new jobs. While we are limited in the number of "Classifieds" we can run in your monthly Journal (due to the relatively long lag time between issues), we can, however, provide other means of assistance that aren't so time-sensitive. That is what we intend to do with this new career column titled, "Career Consultant," written by Sandra Hagevik, Ph.D.

Dr. Hagevik currently serves as a career consultant for EnviroTemps, Inc., a national woman-owned project staffing firm specializing in the environmental careers field. Throughout the course of her professional life, she has written many resumes, both for herself and for other professionals. She began her career as a science and health teacher, and later moved into the fields of career counseling, university administration, and outplacement consulting. Dr. Hagevik has been a nationally certified career counselor since 1985, and has assisted hundreds of individuals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors find satisfying careers.

We hope you enjoy this new addition to your Journal - even if you currently have no need to seek new employment opportunities!

They meet at a professional meeting and exchange news about people, professional issues, new procedures, personal concerns, and gossip. They keep in contact through telephone, e-mail, and personal contacts. They probably respect each other and refer to their mutual interests, research, or friendship. They are communicating. They are also networking or "schmoozing," depending on why, how, when, where, or with whom they connect. Or whom you ask. Whatever they're doing, they are doing everything right to prepare for the inevitable job search when it comes along. These days, job searches and career changes are more frequent than ever before. It's conservatively estimated that those now entering the workforce will change careers three times during their work lives and change jobs more than 10 times during their years of employment.

Research after research, study after study, all point to networking as the primary, number-one, most significant, and most effective tool in landing a new job or finding a new career. So why is networking so misunderstood, misinterpreted, or loathed by so many people who 'already do it on a daily basis? Here's a sample of opinions, followed by suggestions on improving your networking/schmoozing intelligence quotient.

Least-Liked Networking Qualities

Leech-like networkers are people whose sole intent is to pick your brain without reciprocating any useful information or contacts.

Automatic referral syndrome describes people who figure that their business cards or brochures grant them immediate access to your clients, colleagues, or contacts.

Monotone monopolizers are people who pounce on the opportunity to corner you and, like leeches, suck up your contacts, advice, and tips.

Sycophants are people who defer their existence to your influence, thereby placing you in an impossibly powerful position to help them.

Ignorant klutzes are people who don't know what they want and expect you to probe their unconscious to find it.

Best-Liked Approaches

Sharing of expertise and influence is always appreciated. People who use this approach have more to give than to get, and their willingness to share conveys competence and capability

Concern with confidentiality is important. People who respect confidentiality regard others' privacy as they would their own. They share resources judiciously and always ask permission when referring.

Excellent listening is an effective way to network. People who use this approach spend twice as much time listening as talking; their purpose is learning rather than leading the conversation.

Technologically appropriate communication also is important. It's easier to network with people who use the telephone, e-mail, and personal contacts effectively.

Improve Your Networking/Schmoozing Intelligence Quotient

Listen, listen, listen: this is the first and best advice for all who network. How you respond to what you hear is usually far more important than just being there. Follow up what you've heard with actions and proposals.

Have a purpose. Even if it's just to catch up on your last conversation. Know what you want from the conversation. Always ask about others with whom you might communicate. Ask for permission to use your contact's name. Then acknowledge them in ongoing contacts.

Limit your conversation. Nothing's as annoying as one who tells too much. Tell little and reap the benefits of time and careful thought.

Share your knowledge. Generosity is always rewarded, even when your experience is highly specialized. If you can't divulge organizational secrets, you can always assist others in problem solving. Your skills may be appreciated beyond your realm of influence.

Follow-up is critical. Call or send a thank-you note with your ideas, information, a newspaper clipping, or a journal article to thank someone for his or her time. Since time is usually a highly prized commodity, be sure your thanks are appropriate.

Don't give up. Do it your way, but continue doing it. You'll actually gain rather than lose energy from this process. You'll realize that you have valuable skills to share with your professional community. Just continue connecting with your colleagues. After all, they've probably already been where you are.

So, is it networking, schmoozing, or just keeping in touch? You decide. Just do it.
COPYRIGHT 1998 National Environmental Health Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Hagevik, Sandra
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:May 1, 1998
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