Professional Pointers From Your Kids: Networking, Name Dropping, and Never Waking Up From Your Dreams

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Forefront Contributing Writer,Tamer Abouras Lists All the Famous Figures Who Never Let Him Quit.

By Tamer Abouras

There is something inherently annoying about specific words championed by business professionals. The marketing gurus who focus grouped and field-tested these terms might have suggested this, but the ad nauseam nature through which LinkedIn’s most avid users trumpet the trendy terms of a given day can cause these exalted expressions to lose their gravitas.

What in the World is a Network? 

The current vogue watchword we’re all sick of hearing: “network.” “Network” with classmates you went to college with; “network” with the professionals working in your field; “network” with people in your profession even before you land a job. Network. Network. Network.

It’s a fancy, facile, and futile catch-all way of recommending to a person that they communicate, over social media, email, telephone, or in person, with as many other professionals as they possibly can. The elastic word for those communications is “connect” (“So glad we could connect”) and the Orwellian substitute for those who will ostensibly become your professional friends: “contacts.”  In a political understanding of the idea behind these words, it stands to reason that the quality of your contacts matters as much or more than the quantity of contacts in your network.

Networking and the Realities of Job Hunting

Now, here’s a valid question for the venerated vocational vicars of these vapid virtues: who, of any status or repute, is the average college graduate going to network or have networked with when their resume contains nothing more than an education, minimum wage jobs, and perhaps an internship or two?

The above query is essentially rhetorical, because I already know what the answer usually is: “no one.”

With all due respect to the writers of these well-intentioned pieces on how to “network your way to interviews/jobs/a neo-1950s approximation of the American Dream,” being advised to network and retrofit your resume and reference collection with autographs from the all-stars of your desired discipline has an air of flippancy, condescension, and cynicism. It’s “just add water” and “when you get to be my age you’ll get it together” at the same time, all while politely passing you along on your way.

Think about it: after earning a bachelor’s degree (if not more), you’re told in a rather accidentally offensive way that it was really all about who you knew all along. In this way, networking insults both merits and ideals: who you know is placed on a perch high above what you’ve done and where your enthusiasm lies. This while you’re grappling with the inconvenient truths your college advisors never told you, which tend to revolve around career postings frequently listing “2-3 years of experience” as a required credential for an entry-level job, with no hint of irony.

My Network

Inasmuch as I would have preferred to never hear buzzwords like “network” ever again, the house always wins in the casino of life and at just the moment in my first job search that I began to get beaten down and dissuaded from my dreams of becoming a professional writer, I was reminded of diverse and distinguished personal network I already did possess. When I reached out to it for guidance, here’s what they had to say:

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born and how you become most truly alive.” –Oprah Winfrey

“…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” –Steve Jobs

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” –Georgia O’Keefe 

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and, if they can’t find them, make them.” –George Bernard Shaw

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” –Henry David Thoreau 

Taking Hold

I list and say all of that to say this: there’s nothing particularly insidious about networking or looking beyond one’s absolute dream for a job. Still, for our erstwhile jobseekers out there, it’s concerning to see this politicization of the professional world coincide with a cramped, unaccommodating hiring market.

As someone who has never once had to slog through the maw of unpaid writing in the hopes of someday making it, I may be a somewhat unqualified advocate for unbridled idealism. Still, I should mention that none of those other jobs in other sectors ever so much as called me back. I may well have made a good salesman, but my inner compass informs me with certainty that I am best served as a writer.

You spend your whole life surrounded by teachers, family, and friends spurring you onward towards these unstoppable, indefatigable dreams only to come to a screeching halt when it’s time to turn them into a paycheck.  As you proceed through your search and the process of seeking out and establishing contacts and connections within your network, try to remember the network you already have, the work you’ve already done, and the passion that brought you this far, because at some point, your dream found you and make no mistake, it was so that it could be realized. To quote just one more member of my network, Miranda July, “it chooses you.”

1656062_811928982157330_2089466133_nTamer Abouras is a freelance writer for Forefront Magazine.

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