I’d like to share a networking success story. Last year, I blogged about my experience at the PASS Summit of 2005, where I was essentially a wallflower and didn’t really do any networking. Since then, I’ve realized its importance and have embraced professional networking as a key component in a successful career.
Ever since then I have carried through on the lesson I learned, spending as much time as possible getting to know my colleagues, and lending them a hand whenever possible. At the PASS Summit this past November, I got the chance to redeem myself from the lack of initiative from my trip four years earlier, and took the opportunity to get to know as many people as I could. During lunch on the third day of the Summit, I met a fellow Dallas-area business intelligence professional who works for a small consulting firm in my area. He mentioned that his company was looking to hire one or two more senior BI people, and I hinted that I was considering making a move.
To make a long story short, that encounter led to a few phone calls and a series of meetings with this company, and as of next week, I will be a permanent part of their team! My new role will be as a business intelligence consultant, solving complex business data problems alongside some very sharp coworkers. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a little time with all of the leadership and several of the staff members, and I’m very excited about this move and the new challenges that it will bring.
So back to the success story… Looking back at the events of the past couple of months, I don’t believe things would have ended up this way without the groundwork I laid through networking. In the last few years, I’ve spent a good deal of time working with and getting to know the folks in my local SQL Server user group, which in part led to my leadership role within that group. That leadership position helped me to meet and develop friendships with other SQL Server group leaders, and one of those relationships led directly to a friendly introduction to my initial contact at Artis, resulting in the interviews and eventually the new career with that company. It’s important to note that my new role at this company was not openly advertised as a vacant position, so I would likely not have found this opportunity through a traditional job search. I do believe that there was a greater comfort level on both sides of the interviewing fence after we came together through a known and trusted common contact.
My recent experience is further proof that building professional relationships through networking is a great strategy for career improvement. If you’re like I used to be – introverted, a bit shy, perhaps doubting the value of professional networking – I encourage you to take a chance and get to know some of your peers and colleagues. Find a local user group in your area of expertise, and set a goal to meet X number of people. Attend a local technology event such as a product launch or a SQL Saturday, and introduce yourself to others there. Invite a colleague you don’t know to lunch or coffee. Volunteer to be part of a team in events such as GiveCamp. There’s nothing to lose! The very worst thing that can happen is that you’ll meet some people you’ll never see again. And often, things work out such that your networking contacts work together to change your career for the better.
“Fortune favors the bold.” — Virgil