Your network is a two way street, if you only travel one way, you will find yourself alone at the end of the road.
One of the most important resources you can have throughout your career is your network. This group of individuals can provide support during transition, inspiration during evolution and opportunities during growth. This valuable group should be respected, honored, nurtured and not taken for granted.
Have you noticed your network is not responding to you as much as they used to? You may be driving them away.
Throughout our career, we have bumps in the road. Someone else got the promotion, the boss is being unfair to you, job loss, crappy assignments – these things can put us in a bit of a tailspin. We naturally go to our network for support or guidance.
As any good network will do, they will support you. When you ask questions or seek advice, they gladly impart their wisdom. It is how you respond to these acts of support and kindness that will determine if you are driving your network away.
Quite naturally, when negative things happen, we can tend to be a bit defensive or self-absorbed. I have yet to meet a person who does not experience this. I have been down this dark place myself so no stones are being thrown.
How do you know if your network is beginning to secretly hate you, it begins with a rehash of this type of exchange:
“I don’t know why I didn’t get the promotion”
“Did your boss say anything to you?”
“They didn’t give any reason at all?”
“Well, yeah, but it was bs.”
“What did they say?”
“That I didn’t’ have enough experience in XYZ”
“Ok, well, is there an opportunity to learn that or get more exposure?”
“That’s not the point, I should have gotten the promotion, I have been there longer than Susie who got the promotion.”
“Did she have experience with XYZ?”
“Yeah like five years working with it, but I’ve been there longer.”
“But the job required XYZ and she had five years of experience and you haven’t had any, it sounds like you just need to get involved with XYZ if you want to move into that position”
“I don’t thing that is it, I think my boss is just being unfair and bad things happen to me.”
When your network tries to help, offer suggestions, provide alternatives or downright point out what is black and white right there in front of you but you continue to argue with them, they are not going to get the warm and fuzzies.
When someone asks your opinion, you assume they are going to listen to it. When someone asks your opinion then tells you that you are wrong, it is annoying. Continually having these conversations where you are so entrenched in refusing to listen to any possible reason, annoying turns to avoidance.
Do you find that when you ask for your network’s opinion they answer with things like:
“I really don’t know.”
“I’m sure it will work out.”
What they are probably thinking is, ‘why do you keep asking me then arguing with me about it? Why ask my opinion to tell me I am wrong? Why is this the only thing you ever talk about? Why didn’t I decline the offer to meet, I could have had a root canal without sedatives and it would have been more tolerable.’
Being around someone who only wants to have a conversation so they can bemoan some more, blame everything and everyone, argue with anything offered and refuse to see that they might actually have some factor in the negative situation is not fun.
At this point there are two options: work to repair your relationships or stay in the poor me mode alone. If you are ready to repair, just a few simple actions can do a world of good:
When interacting with your network, take a minute to evaluate time. How much time is spent on you and how much is spent on them? Are you asking them questions, are you interacting or are you using them as a sounding board with no interest in them or their life? Recognize if you are hogging all the time.
“I know I have been a bonehead recently and seem to only complain about this event, I am sorry.” This can go a long way to repairing some damage, it shows respect to your network. Dollars to donuts they will forgive you – however, once you apologize, do not follow it up with, “it’s just….” and dive right back into it.
Let Go or Listen
You have two options: either let the situation go when talking to your network or hush up and actually listen to what they have to say, although they may not offer it up again since you did not listen the first hundred times. Take that unflattering look at yourself to see if you have any accountability in the situation. It is not fun but it is a lot easier when you have people there to support you. Sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control. The accountability in this situation is your attitude.
If you find yourself in driving your network away mode, now is the time to remember the golden rule of networking: give first. Reach back out, apologize for being a stick in the mud and re-engage with “what are some things going on with you right now that I can help you with?” Put them first. It will also help you put a little distance between you and the negative situation.
Put a time limit on yourself for not asking anything of your network, you are now grounded from asking for help. Why? Because you abused it. You need to prove to your network that you are serious about respecting them and being there for them. If you apologize, ask what you can do for them and let go of the negative one day but turn around the next and start right back up, you have just proven that you did not mean a darn thing you said yesterday.
When negative things happen in our career, our network can be our lifeline. Your tribe will understand if you get in a funk and act a little brattish. Just don’t abuse this understanding. But if you do remember, you can turn it around with a little work and repair that little bump in the road for smooth traveling for all.
I do realize that anyone who is in the middle of this mode will probably not recognize it, so maybe if it is someone in your network you can print this out and leave it on their workstation. Just as a gentle hint.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
★ To get all my latest articles, visit LisaKMcDonald.com and click the “Yes Please!” button ★