Saturday, February 2, 2008

Recession Survival Tip: Don't Work Harder. Network Smarter

I was struck by a comment in Jane M. Von Bergen's story in Saturday's Philadelphia Inquirer on how the shaky economy makes networking more important than ever:
"When things become unstable, people hunker down and work really hard, versus looking outside their organization and connecting with other professionals who do what they do," said career counselor Beth Ann Wilson, of Media....

"People think if they work really hard, they'll be able to keep their jobs," she said. "That may be so, but sometimes decisions are made not based on how someone works, but on a strategic plan or budget....

"If you are not out talking to people, you won't know about opportunities or what other people are doing."
Amen to that. It is so tempting to withdraw into your "safety zone" and work harder than ever. But you have to be careful that you are not working hard just simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, as the expression goes. You've got to pay attention to the bigger picture.

Financial planners tell people to "pay yourself first." That is, if you are trying to save, the best way to do it is to put what you want to save into your savings account the moment you get your paycheck. If you wait until after you pay all your bills and then save what you have left, well, surprise! You won't have anything left. So pick how much you want to save each paycheck and "pay yourself first."

The same holds true with networking. If you are going to try to fit "time to network" into your schedule after all your other commitments are done, then, surprise! You will never have time to network. So, make your commitment to networking your top priority. Make your other commitments fall into place around your networking.

In Two Weeks to a Breakthrough, management consultant Lisa Haneberg describes something she calls the "daily practice." Every day, tell two people about your goal, take two actions towards your goal, and make two requests that will help make your goal happen. Make a commitment to a daily practice, and you will amazed at what you can achieve in a very short time. Breakthroughs are a social act.

By the by, the Philadelphia Inquirer seems to have a thing for publishing stories about networking on Saturdays. That's cool. There's something very nice about reading the Saturday Inquirer -- it's small, focused, includes some unusual stories with a lot of perspective, and is generally underestimated. Sunday's edition tries to be Important. Saturday just is what it is.


Unknown said...

Haneberg's "daily practice" is an excellent habit for anyone seeking to reach a specific goal. By acknowledging what you're trying to accomplish, and taking specific actions toward it every day, you will definitely make progress.

Too often, we get caught up in our daily work activities and put ourselves last. Integrating the daily practice into your daily to-do list keeps you focused on achieving those incremental steps that move you closer to your goal.

Oliver Picher said...

Thanks, Karen. I find it impossible to hold to Haneberg's "daily practice" myself, but I find myself still pushing to find that daily action, that daily share of my goals with someone, or my daily request. Even if I don't get to it every day, it is still a powerful force for change. It is indeed an excellent habit.