I am not a Buddhist, but Buddhist teachings have had some influence on my life lately. They keep me in the moment and positive while facing the rollercoaster that is life. One book in particular that I am reading is "Start Where You Are" by Pema Chodron. Chodron’s teachings can be used in many areas of life, even in getting the right mindset to make connections in a practice I like to call “zen networking.”
Start Where You Are
The title of Chodron’s book is also a teaching. In my opinion, Start Where You Are means that every day is an opportunity to start fresh and pick up where you left off. Don’t discourage yourself if you make mistakes. You do not have to be perfect to move forward and make progress. The same goes for networking. You may make an awkward comment when you meet someone that you wish you could take back, forget to follow up, miss the opportunity to talk to a person at an event that you really wanted to meet, or commit some other mishap. Networking faux pas or mistakes can happen, and will happen on your journey in making connections for your career development. But none of them are an excuse to give up or be harsh on yourself. They are the natural parts of your journey that you learn from.
Be Grateful to Everyone
Follow up “thank you” emails are a definite to do in networking. Also, I am sure you have thanked someone whenever they have taken the time to give you a practice interview or have an informational interview with you. However, there is more to Be Grateful to Everyone than that. As you endeavor to make connections, some will work out and others won’t. You will meet people that could turn into a friend, mentor, colleague or acquaintance, and you will also encounter people who will not end up connected to you. You may even meet individuals who will not be welcoming, not be nice, and possibly a challenge. Nevertheless, everyone you meet and try to connect with will provide you with a lesson to learn and the opportunity to learn more about yourself.
Abandon Any Hope of Fruition
A lot of people embark on networking with just the end goal in mind, which is to get an internship or job. However, that should not be your intent or approach when first networking with someone. First of all, asking for a job/internship outright can be a turn off to the other person. Also, by going to the end result right away, you miss out on the opportunity to get to know another individual, learn things from them, and perhaps help them out in return. In the Buddhist tradition, you can only control the intention, not the outcome. Be in the here and now. Be present in the stages of networking as they occur with each individual, and the outcomes will work themselves out.
Happy, Zen Networking,