The Power of Networking: When Opportunities Come to You
You may or may not have noticed the lack of original articles from me the last week or so. Well, there’s a couple explanations. I’ve been rather distracted with a few opportunities that have come my way over the last few weeks, starting with this one. That job was just the first in close to a half-dozen jobs that have come my way without me even searching actively. And I have one thing to thank for bringing these jobs to me:
That’s right. How else would people find me for jobs unless they knew me, knew my skills and knew how to contact me? It’s no accident (although I’m still considering if it’s an act of God) that we hooked up for these various opportunities, because I’ve been in the same field for almost 7 years and made a number of friends. I live in a highly-populated area, but my niche is such a small world in that you’re bound to run across someone you know eventually. That’s also why I never burn bridges by upsetting coworkers, employers or clients.
Here’s a rundown of the various job opportunities I’ve received:
- An independent consultant job with a major banking institution. I’ve already turned this one down as it was too risky for me, but that same friend referred me for a newly opened position with his current company (see next job)
- A consultant position with a major non-profit financial company. This job is actually just a few miles away from my home in Maryland, but I’ll talk more about it later. I would be an employee with benefits with the contracting company, not all on my own like #1.
- A full-time employee position with a major university in Virginia. A friend I worked with when I first moved down has been bugging his boss to get me in there for over a year. Now they actually have a position opening up!
- A consultant position with a federal agency in Virginia. My old boss from my current employer moved to a smaller company and wants me to work on a job in Virginia. Unfortunately, the job isn’t very interesting and I would need to both drive (no metro access) and pay tolls. It might be a pay increase, but not enough to make me want to move
- A partner with my current officemate on a federal contract. My coworker is still pulling some strings with his friends at an old federal agency where he worked for a few years, and he would want me to partner as an independent consultant with him. However, there’s nothing substantive yet so I can’t really consider this job.
As you can see, I have at least 3-4 likely candidates for a new job right now, and it’s been through the power of networking and reconnecting with past coworkers, bosses and friends that these opportunities happened. So what’s the status of the main one (#2)?
Job Opportunity #2: Close to Home
When I was first referred for this job at the non-profit firm, the contract company said they only had 2 open jobs. I’m no longer technically astute enough to fill either of those jobs, but they did mention they had a requirements analyst (aka business analyst) position. However, according to their records, the position wasn’t open so we ended it there. However, this past Tuesday, I got a call from a different agent with the contract company that said the analyst position is now open.
The agency said that my resume really fit the job requirements very well and the client wanted to speak with me. On Wednesday morning, I had a phone interview with the client PM and also the business analyst manager. It was a grueling 50 minutes because I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to their questions. You see, they do requirements analysis and use case design the right way, whereas all my past (and current) employers and clients either don’t do it at all or do it informally.
The client gave me immediate feedback on the phone, which was not ordinary in an interview. From what he told me and from a conversation with the contract company, they really want to hire me, but they want to confirm my skills and aptitudes. So that’s when the real fun happened.
Talking to a Guru
The contract company happens to know one of the authors of the “use case bible” and decided to arrange a 1-hour phone conversation with the gentleman for Thursday. Unfortunately, it was Wednesday, I needed to get the book ASAP and actually read through it before the meeting.
So I ordered the book “Managing Software Requirements: A Use Case Approach” through Amazon, but I also signed up for the 1-month trial of Amazon Prime to receive the $3.99 overnight shipping. I saved about $14 off the in-store price and about $12 off the regular overnight shipping cost. And I made sure to add an alarm in my phone calendar to remind me to cancel or else I’ll have to pay the $79 annual fee.
But since it was Wednesday afternoon and I wouldn’t get the book soon enough before I spoke with the author, I decided to stop by an area Barnes & Noble to read through their copy. So I sat in the Starbucks for over 2 straight hours and covered every one of the 400 regular pages (taking notes along the way). I didn’t get to the appendices, but they weren’t needed. My eyes and brain were exhausted!
The contract company boss registered a conference call through FreeConference.com, which seems like a great conference tool. It was a long-distance call for me, but I used my cell so I didn’t pay additional charges. The conversation went very well and the author helped me with realizing my weak points and providing insight into making them my strengths. Oh, and the author offered his consultation services to me for free! Now that’s a great tool to keep in my back pocket. I then went through a few mock interview questions and finished up the call. Wow, this is by far the most amount of work I’ve had to do for a job, especially one I wasn’t actively trying to get in the first place!
The next steps are a site visit early next week, as well as discussing more about compensation. I won’t get into any of that here other than to say I’m expecting at least a 10% raise, and maybe even a sign-on bonus to cover my tuition if I have to pay back that $10,000 to my current employer.
When something material happens, I’ll write about it. But for now, think about your own network. Who can you call upon for help if you need it? Do you keep in touch with coworkers and bosses when they leave your company? Do you participate in networks like LinkedIn? Or how about local unions, guild, user groups, conferences, etc.? Networking is vital to career and personal development, even if you’re staying with the same employer your entire life.