I have learned a lot in my life and most of it was not in the classroom. I am learning what people do for a living. I am learning how to sell. I am learning how to assess needs. I’m still learning how to be a leader. I’m still learning about myself.
If we stop learning, we miss out on tons of cool opportunities.
I am not an extrovert. I could be happy typing away behind my computer for hours, really. However, I realize, that what motivates me and what fulfills me is learning about new people. I learned this from my dad. (And I know I’ve written about this before). I learned how to model his outgoing personality and have adapted it over the years to fit me.
My dad would talk to anybody, anytime. As a child, this was SO embarrassing. He would walk into a restaurant and talk to the hostess about their business “Looks like you’re pretty busy this morning.” He would start the conversation and let the other person speak and he listened. As much as he loved to talk, he was a super listener. By the time we left the restaurant, all the waitstaff and several customers (all whom he’d never met before that day) would smile and go out of their way to say “Good-bye Scott!” These were his new best friends for the day. He did this every day of his life.
Store clerks would recognize him when he returned a year later. He would pick up the conversation where it left off. “So, how’s the farm going?” he would ask, miraculously remembering that from the questions he asked over a year ago. It wasn’t just complete strangers he could listen to. Aunts, uncles, cousins, fraternity brothers, neighborhood friends, childhood friends, all stayed in touch with him (or he stayed in contact with them). He loved reaching out and making a quick call to see what his friends were up to. Out of the blue, you could expect a call from Scott. He was also the family news distributor. Whenever anything significant occurred, you could count on him to circulate the good news! “Hey, did you hear David got a new job?” “Did you know Jeff was going to climb Mt. Everest?”
I share this story of my dad to help you understand that networking isn’t pushing your agenda. Networking isn’t just for job search. Networking occurs all the time. My dad didn’t do this expecting anything in return. It was his genuine interest and he loved to learn.
Take off whatever hat you are wearing “job seeker”, “business analyst”, “speaker”, “coach”… and just listen and learn.
“The heart is not measured by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others” The Wizard of Oz