Have Connections? Use Them!

The woman I interviewed had a gap in her resume. I couldn’t figure out what she did during that period.

“So how about this time frame?” I asked.

“Well…” she began, hesitatingly, “I did have a job at a pharmaceutical lab.”

Really? Why isn’t it on your resume?

Oh, I hate to talk about it. My father got me the job.

What??? You’re kidding me? At this point, I stopped interviewing and went into career coach mode. I told her never to be embarrassed about any connection that helped her career.

Many older professionals rely relentlessly on business relationships. But, when we first start out, taking advantage of a connection somehow feels like cheating. So I reminded the woman I interviewed, you may have had a hand getting in the door but, once in, your reputation is yours to lose. If she performed well, she would succeed; if she didn’t, it’s unlikely her father’s friend would spend much energy covering for her. Her father’s contact followed the code: help out a friend to the extent it doesn’t compromise your reputation or performance. Assistance beyond that point is not expected in the business world.

Ultimately, networking will be one of the largest determinants of your success, so embrace it. Ideally you will always work on developing your own business relationships during your career. You may need to go out of your comfort zone a little to keep in touch with someone but the effort will eventually pay off. And if you can connect someone else with a business contact, why not? It’s a small planet we live on and the world runs smoother if everyone’s working together.