Sunday, April 25, 2010

Transitions and networking

The last two years have been a search for me. Changing careers is challenging, to put it mildly. You feel a range of emotions- bewilderment, hope, excitement, frustration, and just panic sometimes.
But each step you take and each dead end you reach, makes the journey that much closer.
I like to think it's not about how long it takes, but how each day you wake up, you're one day closer to where you want to be.
And getting there is so exciting because the more you search, the more new people you are likely to meet and the more other ideas you discover along the way.
This is what's been happening to me over the last little while.
I spent some time training in knowledge management and keeping abreast of the latest developments in the field, particularly in social media and Web 2.0.
To do this I spent the better part of last year networking and meeting up with some of the directors in knowledge management in the law firms in Toronto.Admittedly it was intimidating to start on this course, being of an introverted type of personality. But all it takes is that first little baby step and the desire to succeed. (What also helped was reading a few books on how to network! After all many others have done this before, right, so you need not repeat mistakes that have already been made).

After a few meetings you begin to refine your approach and learn to make the most economical use of your time. I learned much from these directors, particularly about the state of maturity of knowledge management in the legal industry in Toronto. And I met a VERY wide variety of personalities. Must say, everyone I met was extremely open and generous with their time.
Networking like this certainly builds your confidence as well as your knowledge of your industry of interest.Interacting on a one on one basis gives you more opportunity to get to know the person you're dealing with. It's interesting to note how chemistry operates between people. There are some for whom you have an immediate affinity, that you click with, and others less so.
If you're interested in learning how to network, I recommend you start first of all with Richard Bolles:
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

I wish I had known about this book years ago. It helped me look at career changing in a whole new way and gave me the tools , a system, to work with. It taught me about how to find what  I was good at and how to go about finding the industries within which I would be happiest. When  you are seeking a change in your life you don't want to go back to doing the same old because you've been there, done that . But at the same time you have this wealth of skills, training and experience that all went into making you the unique individual you are.So you want to marry that with doing the new thing that is going to make you leap out of bed in the morning to go and do it. Some of us just can't continue in the same old track even though it pays the bills very well and takes us on great vacations and fine restaurants. You take a risk and lose all that security  because you trust that if you dare to close one door that the next doorway you step through opens a whole world of possibilities.

Here's another great book I used to help me through the actual mechanics of networking. It's The $100,000 career by John Davies.He explains "The Law of 100" which entails leveraging the power of the networks of the people you meet. So it's not just about the people you know personally, but the people they know who can also refer you to others in their network. It's like in a book!

My journey into social media and knowledge management also took me to into a whole new direction in the world of business development, something, together with leadership development, that has been of great interest to me for about 10 years now.

Next post, I'll tell you what I am learning about ''Design thinking", so stay tuned!

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