Anyone who knows me can tell you - networking isn't my bag. It's sad to say, but I'm a pretty introverted sort of person and talking up strangers isn't one of my strong suits. Which is why I have had to turn down many "job offers" in the sales-related area. It's just not me.
Neither is asking for help. I'm a pretty independent type and even though I would never hesitate to help out another - asking for help is one of those things that make me cringe. I'm not sure if it's the "rejection" aspect or if it's the part that makes me beholden to another... I just find it very hard to swallow my pride and say "hey, can you help me out?" (hmmm, maybe it's the pride part that's holding me back)
Take, for instance, my undergrad degree. My parents have always been supportive of higher education. They offered all of my siblings an opportunity to take them up on it. I gave it a try directly out of high school but I'm afraid I had far too many wild oats to sow. Later on, when I determined that an undergrad degree would actually be the best thing for me, they supported my decision, but I was on my own in the funding department. And, I kind of liked that. It was almost as though I had made my first "adult" decision and I was pleased it was one they would be proud of.
Fast forward several years to a very frustrated Calicobebop. I had been attending school part time, own my own dime, and even though I was doing well - the goal seemed too far away. I was depressed. Enough so to make me seek counseling. (not that it did much good - the counselor was very nice but nothing he could say would make the degree come faster) So a sad little Calico called her parents - not to ask for assistance, just to bemoan the situation - and they offered help! Help of the most wonderful kind. I won't go into details but suffice it to say, I wound up finally attaining my degree in the next eighteen months. Thanks Mom and Dad! I'll never forget that!
After the degree I went to OCS and was commissioned as an officer in the Navy. Everyone told me that the military was like a "family" but it wasn't like any family I'd ever known. Sure, I saw people looking out for each other - but for the most part, it was only because it furthered their own interests. I didn't like to think of my fellow officers as greedy attention-whores, but a lot of them were. Not to say that I didn't make a great many acquaintances in the Navy, I just didn't make that many friends.
Towards the end of my service I shied away from the typical social functions that accompany the life of an officer. I didn't court my superiors, I did my job. I didn't ensure that I remembered all the names of my boss's pets, I did my job. I didn't play golf. I didn't go to Dining Outs or Dining Ins, I did my job and went home to get on with my life. And I became afraid. Afraid that I was unintentionally burning bridges that might lead me towards a new career. I was afraid, but I didn't change. I don't know how to be anything other than what I am.
Last week I filled out a job application that asked for THREE previous supervisor's recommendations. I was terrified. I have the consent of my last supervisor as a reference, but two more? Holy cow - that introverted side of my nature seemed ready to bite me in the ass. Still, I gathered my courage, googled a couple of my former bosses and cold called them.
That's right - Cold Called Them! I'm not even kidding when I say that I was sweating bullets and shaking. After these years, could they remember me? Even if they did, would they want to provide a professional reference for me? It was terrifying.
And you know what? Those two gentlemen were so kind and so sweet and so helpful! I remember them as hardworking men who just wanted to do their job, and do it well - without all the politics and ass kissing. When I phoned they sounded pleased that I would ask for their help. They offered letters and phone calls - whatever I needed. I almost cried. I had no idea they would even remember me, much less want to vouch for me. I had no words to express my gratitude.
The memory of those two senior officers will always be in my mind as I move forward in life. It's true, networking is the best and fastest way to achieve one's end. However, I suppose that if you do a good job and are true to yourself you may find that a simple request for aid will do wonders in the end. Thank you Gentlemen! I'm in your debt and I intend to be as helpful in the future - should anyone ask... I thank you and I salute you!