Sunday, 19 February 2017

The power of networking

A wise man said once you work to live, not the other way round, but you need to work to enjoy your life. In your adult life you spend around one-fifth of your life at work (assuming your work 225 days per year, eight hours per day) and nearly one-third of the time you are awake (assuming you sleep seven hours each night). No wonder then workplace is where you meet people and get involved in relationships with them (today not a single word on romantic ones).

One rarely can choose their workmates, so one can sometimes hate them, but also hit it off with some of them. Nevertheless you spend several hours a (working) day with colleagues not to become friends, but to pursue together a common goal which is making your company earn, which you hope will translate into your individual goal, i.e. to get paid!

It’s not a secret relationships built over your professional life, though frequently cannot be called friendships, are precious. In the corporate world, the more people you know, the more you can gain. Everybody knows what growing your network means, so nearly everyone, driven by their self-preservation instinct, plays that game, as having a network can benefit everybody. The only question is when you reap the benefits (if you do it at all), but since sowing the seeds of networking costs little, nearly everyone does it.

Those familiar with the nicknames I consistently use on the blog and keeping track of developments in the Polish financial secret, don’t need to be told the Employer, where I worked from 2010 to 2014 has actually fallen apart after a merger with another player in the industry. As it naturally happens when two companies are combined into one, several corporate functions are doubled and to streamline the organisation and pursue cost synergies overstaffing has to be coped with. The way making staff redundant is handled does not vary across corporations. The set-up I described in much detail over four years ago (hey it’s been over eight years since I posted on PES for the first time) remains up-to-date and the only positive thing about being left out in the cold are parachutes laid-off workers get that let them make ends meet for a few months.

Regardless of the financial aspect of being given the sack, on top comes the emotional one. Many people, though they have hobbies, families and lead private lives, find it hard to stay at home for a prolonged period and miss the part of their life which apart from earning them a livelihood, gave them a lot of satisfaction and self-fulfilment.

Those who I feel most sorry for are the ones who had spent more than a decade at the Employer, who last looked for a job before Poland joined EU, who will be outside their comfort zone when they finally are taken on by another company.

When I attended a funeral mass in early January, I met some long-unseen workmates and since then the frequency of interactions with former colleagues has intensified. I could hold a grudge against them for renewing our relationships when they are on the verge of falling off the cliff, but I won’t. Majority of people want to grab every opportunity to reduce uncertainty and increase their odds of soft landing when they are dropped of the corporate plane.

The number of invitations on LinkedIn, number of phone calls, lunches in town and meetings indicates the lookout for a foothold is under way. From a not entirely professional perspective, relationships with former workmates have grown multi-faceted. I have become a professional counsellor, a psycho-therapist, a shoulder to cry on, a labour market analyst and a potential assistant to recruiters at the New Factory. I need to show empathy in those roles, but I often struggle not to overdo with empathy at the expense of sincerity. Giving advice to someone or raise their spirits must not mean telling them they are eligible for every job or they would fit every organisations. My job requires above-average assertiveness, fluency in English, involves frequent public speeches, business trips, staying overtime and (OK, I’m now blowing my own trumpet) not everyone meets all the criteria.

Plus to be sincere, my workplace has turned recently into a mire (worse than in my first months there, though easier to survive today) into which I would not draw any of my workmates, though they know there are vacancies to be filled. On the other front, five months after first cracks appeared, I went to labour market and sent out three applications last weekend (no response so far). It has been my first sounding out of the labour market since early 2014 and the main change I see is that sending a CV and a letter of application to an e-mail address has given way to filling in application forms and attaching a CV (letter of application is gone?). Interestingly, all three potential employers were asking about salary expectations in the application forms; wondering whether this a tool to disqualify over-priced candidates right away?

With such nasty course of affairs, I may only hope the good I am sending to people will return to me if I am left out in the cold, which is unfortunately not inconceivable.

No comments: