Several years back I had finished a long-term tenure with the Ex-Pat Chamber of Commerce and was looking for ‘something similar.’
I was confident of a new assignment with a similar organisation, a familiar role and so I bided my time.
One or two agencies had my resume and so sat back … waiting for the ‘offers’ to come by. I figured that in three or four months I could transfer my contacts and all which I’d learned and move amongst the familiar network once more.
Twelve months arrived without any interest. Twelve became 14 months, then 18 months came and went.
I found myself in an unfamiliar position of ‘chasing shadows’ via ‘specialist recruiters’ offering limited, much oversubscribed ‘vacancies.’
I wouldn’t say that I was worried, although after eighteen months I was now considering diversity. It was time to start with a blank canvas, I needed to leave the comfort zone of what I knew – start afresh.
Around this time a friend suggested I visit a local networking event:
“Something that might ‘do you good’ and ‘help to view the bigger picture.’ ”
We agreed to meet up later that evening after I visited the local automatic bank teller.
After twenty years in business, I’d never been in a position when I had found myself ‘broke.’ Now though, the message I read as I requested my withdrawal confirmed it – ‘funds unavailable.’
Starting at nothing was one thing, existing on it was another and the realisation of this moment took me aback. A reality check.
Needless to say, I did catch up with my friend, and after we’d discussed my ‘plight’ when he introduced me to an acquaintance who happened to be heading up a Govt., funded rehabilitation unit.
It so happens they were ‘looking for specialists’ who could manage to deliver ‘a brand-new programme.’ It did not take me long to confirm ‘I’m interested,’ so we set up a meeting at his office the next day which led to a 4-month delivery cycle. It was a start.
Some way into the new role, on my way home, I met a familiar face …
“Hi, George” I called as my near neighbour approached, almost colliding with the chap. There was a short exchange of pleasantries although at the time I did feel that George was not acting his usual buoyant self.
The next couple of weeks proved fulfilling, the project keeping me busy. I had certainly not given up plans of moving back into the industry I loved, although I was grateful for this hiatus in my search for the ideal work-life balance.
The project training I was charged to deliver one evening, was to a group who were unknown to us. I read the expected attendance sheet and saw a list of names – amongst them I saw was my neighbour, George Parks.
Sure enough, a band of six ‘offenders’ arrived, one being my near neighbour and all accompanied by community police officers. ‘This was going to be tough.’ I thought to myself and sure enough, George saw me and immediately broke down.
Little did I know, George and his wife were having a tough time. He had recently been made redundant and all was not as it should be. George had picked up with his drinking and his his wife was not in the best of health. At 55 years of age, this was proving an awful time for the family.
Eventually, George stayed with the programme of three weeks and I came to know and understand him well. Both he and his wife moved on from their problems and both became much happier as a result.
My lesson from this was pretty easy. I have always known that networking can be an antidote for many ills, whether business or personal. Given the chance, a simple conversation can work its magic.
Sure networking is often seen as something we ‘do’ to encourage business. Although we should never underestimate the simple choice of ‘moving,’ of ‘doing’ – networking is more than business. It’s about people. By engaging, doing brings change.
I’ve learned from the past. For me, business is personal.