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The Accidental Career Effective Networking for Career Development, Part 1

Did you know exactly what you wanted to do leaving school or filling out college application forms at seventeen years of age?

Even if you did – is that what you still want, and are you currently doing it?

Few of us realise our dream career. We end up in our first job somewhat by accident, and many of us remain passive or unfulfilled throughout our working life.

It’s not just me telling you this. I came across some research commissioned by Gerry Moan, for his book, “Who’s Driving the Bus”:

Career research findings

  • Excluding the professions, 80% of adults don’t decide on a career until 12 months after they start their first ‘proper’ job (excluding part-time work).
  • Then, we either decide “I don’t like this and want to do something else/ be somewhere else” or, “I quite like this … I’d like to do more”.

(Personally, I don’t think it takes 12 months to know this, but you get the idea.)

We have three options

1. Do nothing – that’s life, suck it up
2. I’m not moving, but I’d like to progress in my current role/company
3. I chose completely the wrong career – get me out of here.

It’s largely up to us to decide what to do next. Option 1 is certainly a strategy, but perhaps not the happiest one.

With options 2 and 3 we start looking around. We may seek internal promotion, a move to a similar role in another organisation, or we look outside the company for something completely different.


Career advancement or job satisfaction isn’t just about updating your cv and doing interviews. They’re only part of the solution.

Think about it – you probably spend more time with the people you work with than those you love. What would happen if you thought about your career as the evidence of your expertise?

“Don’t be ridiculous” I hear you say, “I’m technically skilled and operationally competent, my career has nothing to do with relationships!”

I beg to differ. If that was the case, then you never would have reported into that twat whose promotion seemed to defy logic. I’ve never come across any company that operated a true meritocracy. To really advance your career, you need competence and the ability to form productive relationships that deliver results. Simply put, you need to be good at your job, and other people need to know it.

The way to do that is…Networking

Before you groan and stop reading, answer one quick question: when looking for your dream date, would you prefer to:
1. Place a lonely hearts ad, and hope someone responds
2. Answer a lonely hearts ad, and hope someone picks you
3. Identify your sweetheart, realise your mate knows her, get him to tell her how wonderful you are and make a personal introduction.

Substitute developing your career, and you see the strategy. According to Andy Bounds, that’s pretty much how networking relationships work. He should know, his book, The Jelly Effect, is my recommended reading on networking.

The Planned Career

It was Lewis Carrol who said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

To find out more about how to network for career development, read part 2 of this series tomorrow.

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