In this summer’s next installation of Living Life Independently, we look at networking. Networking is probably the most powerful tool you’ll need to succeed in life! In this post, we’ll be pulling some information from the 2017 presentation at the CHHA Conference in Sidney by Michael Currie and Dean Olson, who have successfully gained meaningful employment simply by networking (and yes, both have a hearing loss!).
What is networking anyway? Networking is, in a nutshell – making valuable connections with EVERYONE you meet. Yes, everyone. You never know who could help you land your dream job. Start early. Even while you’re in high school! Your friends. Your friends’ parents. Your dad’s boss. Your neighbours. Your dentist. Your doctor. Your computer guy. The list goes on. It isn’t about ‘using’ people, but rather, making yourself KNOWN to people. Show them what you can do. Show them your talents. Show them that you’re worthy of employment. The same goes for hearing people.
This begs the question. Are you a half full or half empty person?
Michael states that there is actually a THIRD option. Opportunity! Drink the whole thing. Don’t be one or the other. He spoke of a friend who was being groomed to be the top dog at a company and got passed over by so he found out where that person came from and applied for that person’s job. He got it and it actually worked out better for him as he is closer to home and has better pay! Most people might go, well, it may be all for the best and I will try again next time or they will become frustrated and bitter. Look beyond that, look at it differently.
One of my favorite parts of networking is that it doesn’t always focus on what’s going on in the present. Looking to the future is equally important. I will never forget landing my first “adult” job without even having to submit a resume! My name was passed on from a woman I knew during my university years, and within 2 months of meeting, she asked if I could cover her maternity leave! The connections you make today maybe even more valuable 20 years from now. A few other points from Michael and Dean:
- Not only can we keep our references, but keeping a network of contacts and former co-workers can pay off with future jobs; former bosses may hire you later.
- Former coworkers and network contacts provide career connections and friendships.
- With our hearing challenges, our networks with other hard of hearing folks provide hearing technology information. Sometimes this is crucial….
- With our “low hearing,” we recognize that our network can work to support us with our unique challenges
Which is why amazing groups like the CHHA-BC Peer Support Program exist to help broaden YOUR network with those who are like-minded and also can support you in your long term goals. Staying in touch and remaining engaged is critical to success in both the workplace and social lives.