Apr220091:09 pm

Elbow patches are awesome, but only if they’re not stained, ctd.

Lindsey Gerdes, blogging at First Jobs on BusinessWeek.com, agrees with my previous post and says we should cut the whining out of networking:

It’s not only your attire that makes a first impression. It’s your attitude as well. And while sharing your woes might win you some sympathy, it probably won’t land you the potential contacts and opportunities that having a positive and professional demeanor would.

My comments to Lindsey’s post:

Thanks for this post and the link to Working World, Lindsey. I’m with you 100% that an important part of any job search is commiseration. The solitary nature of the job search can be one of its most difficult aspects, so the support and encouragement of fellow job seekers and other contacts can be really necessary to help us persevere (my co-author Sherry has always encouraged job seekers to form a support group to find this kind of camaraderie).

The point of my story about “JS,” though, as you note, is that venting frustration, while needed to help keep us sane, has a time and a place– and that time and place is probably not at networking events. Networking is all about building relationships, trying to organically develop contacts and opportunities. And I think “organic” is a key word here: I’ve found that people want to help you, they want to do for you what others have done for them– but only if it is natural and unforced, genuine and without obligation. If you present yourself as a talented, hard-working, polished young professional who is looking to connect with like-minded people and hopefully in the process gain some advice and help, then you make it easy for potential contacts to want to help you– because it will be not out of obligation but genuine interest and connection. But if you come across as sloppy, whiny, and borderline accusatory (as I felt “JS” did, almost like, “I’ve spent all this time networking with you, now why haven’t you found me a job?!”), then fewer people are going to want to offer the help you’re looking for.

There’s no denying it’s tough out there and, though you may indeed be having a rough go of it, leave the venting out of your networking and keep it confined to your support group and friends.

UPDATE: An added “how to dress yourself well” bonus, especially apropos of my slip yesterday into Project Runway territory: Tim Gunn’s Guide to Laundry and Closet Organization

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