Connections – Make Them Count!

02.20.14 | Posted in Job Search

For over twenty years, I’ve provided career, job search and resume advice for people. Many professionals and college students come to me for help and when I send them out in the world I sometimes feel like the mother of the Three Little Pigs, hoping all I have taught them will help build a foundation of solid Career Connections for the future.

When we think of those Three Little Pigs, we remember that two of them built their homes with straw and sticks while the third built his home with bricks. If your Career Connections are flimsy straw and stick Connections, what kind of network are you building? Something flimsy. But if your Connections are continuously solid, what have you built in the end? Exactly – a firm, solid foundation you can leverage now and for the future.

Here are three stories about how some of my apprentices have handled their Career Connections. See if this resonates for you and which one should you model and build your foundation upon.

Story number one. This story begins about 15 years ago. I hired a young man who had been referred to me. He came to my company having sold copiers to businesses door to door.  There is one thing to know about that business. If you can sell copiers door to door, you can make it anywhere! His dream was to ultimately get a job in pharmaceutical sales. We hired him, he was successful and because he had moved out of an entry-level sales job and proved he could sell in another industry, he did find his dream job and left our company. Fast forward to about two years ago. There has now been about a ten year gap since I’ve heard from him. I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1994 so if you’ve known me that long you still know how to get in touch with me. I received a phone call from him and he left me a voice mail. What did he want? Ten years later, with no connections and relationship whatsoever in that entire time, he’s now wanting me to act as a reference. Question – what would you have done?

Story number two. Last year the son of a friend came to me for resume and career advice. I provided two coaching sessions and help rewriting the resume all pro bono. This young man wanted to move to another city and was looking for networking help as well. Ultimately, through his own connections, he was able to land a job in that preferred city. After the last phone call and the last iteration of the resume via email, I haven’t heard from him. I only know he got a job in the new city because of a conversation with his father. It’s now been at least six months and I’ve not heard a single word from him. Question – what should he have already done or should he do very soon? Second question – if he were to call you today what would you do?

Story number three. About 18 months ago, I offered some career and resume advice to a soon to graduate Masters candidate at LSU.  He was trying to figure out if he had chosen the right career path with the Master’s program he was in. I used the Birkman Method® Career component and showed him what we believed to be his interests and passions.  He graduated and landed a job with a great company through his own connections. Several weeks ago, after the turn of the new year, I received a very nice email thanking me for helping him figure out the right path and wanting to go to lunch and get caught up. Guess who I had lunch with this week? Yes – this young man is using the principles of Connections and recognizing that sometime, somewhere a new career or job will come calling!

Even though this third young man has found a job and I may not ever be able to help him again, he is still willing to reinforce our Connection with a kind call and offer for lunch. He is making his Career Connections count. Of the three examples, which one would you be most willing to help again? Pretty obvious, isn’t it?!

Connection and Career Advice – if someone helps you along your path, whether it’s for a fee, pro bono or any combination, stay in touch with them going forward. Sometime, somewhere a new career or job will have your name on it and you never know who can help you close the deal!

Onward & Upward!

Ed Chaffin



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One Response to “Connections – Make Them Count!”

  1. Andreea says:

    We should learn something from these three stories. During the time I learned that career connections are very important for my future. For example, a few years ago I was going to conferences, workshops etc just because of the information that could have been provided to me, but during the time I’ve realized that the main role of this events was making people connect and making them learn from each other experience. So, making connections and knowing how to maintain them are skills that we should take in consideration.

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