Building Your Future Career Foundation

Career Foundation

I recently read a post from Ittybiz that made me think about my own career. 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Have A Cushion Before You Quit Your Job. I am currently working at a job that's not my perfect fit, but I still get a lot out of the experience. I've thought about quitting and just making a go of speaking and writing about work happiness, but I'm not ready. I know that it's my dream; I'm just in need of a little more seasoning before I go out on my own. I also need more support from other people in my life. It's not the fault of the people that are currently in my life, but the need to add people who can open doors for my career.

Your uncle in the cardboard box business isn't going to help you find those freelance writing gigs that you've been trying to land or introduce you to the CEO of your ultimate company. You need to connect with people who have influence in your field. That means being the persistent giver that loves to help others.

Personal Story to Cement My Point

When my wife finished her student teaching, unofficially graduating from college, she went back to work for that teacher for free. At first I was like, "What are you doing? Go enjoy your summer," but after talking to her and understanding her goals I began to understand her wise choice. The teacher wanted to move into school administration. Nikki kept her face and hard work ethic right in front of that teacher's eyes. When the teacher decided to leave, she recommended Nikki for the position. The principal didn't even consider any other candidates.

Career Enhancers Radar

You need to put yourself on the radar of the people who can help you. If that means sending a hand written note with a little present that doesn't cost more than a few bucks, so be it. If that means doing a little extra work so you stand out from the crowd, so what if you lose out on a weekend or two.

It's about building a network that will support you during tough and good times. Without it you'll be a lonely coconut just hanging on and hoping not to fall before you are ready. Find those other coconuts, join their clump, but don't be afraid to switch clumps when you need more help and always keep in touch with those other clumps with a phone call or an email. If you do fall, your old group may be able to send down a monkey to bring you back into the tree for a little more seasoning.

That's why I have to respectfully disagree with Naomi that you just need to quit your job. I think you need to build a network of people who can help you find clients, investors, and connections that will beget success. I do agree that there will never be a perfect time. Quitting your job will force you to make connections that you never would have tried to make if it weren't for some pressure. Yes, you will need to take the leap if you want to own your own business, sooner is better than later, otherwise you'll just look back on your life wishing that you took that chance to work for yourself. But don't do it without a support system from people in the industry in which you want to work, otherwise you'll be floundering for air, begging for a job instead of being confident in each meeting.

How many trusted people do you truly believe are in your network that will help your career? What do you do to foster these relationships?

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Image courtesy of Steffe