If there were ever a more important time to network, I can't remember it. I've been to so many going-away parties in the last few weeks that I'm starting to wonder what I'm still doing here. People who thought they'd played it professionally safe -- bankers, lawyers, significant others of bankers and lawyers -- are suddenly finding themselves among the nation's growing jobless. And even those who remain gainfully employed are hoarding their cash, certain they'll be the next to go.
So we young people do what any sane person would do: We spin the old mental Rolodex. We note all the people who don't hate us and might be of some use. And then we send messages that read something like this:
Hey, Person I Need!
Long time no talk! How are you?! Sorry I haven't written you in 17 years -- boy have I been busy -- but here's some contrived anecdote to show I've been thinking about you. Thought you'd like to hear these few random things that are going on with me, too. Oh, by the way, I was thinking you could hire me/refer me/help me in some other way I've been generous enough to dream up for you. And since I'm sure you're dying to read my resume, it's attached. Totally can't wait to catch up!
Most Transparent Jobseeker Ever
If that sounds extreme, believe me, it's not. I have, in fact, received a number of notes not unlike this myself in recent weeks. And for the record, it isn't that I wouldn't be happy to help if I could. It's just that the approach is so completely disingenuous that it's actually detrimental to the person's cause. (And we Yers tend to be more prone to it because of our sometime lack of social graces, the quick and familiar way we communicate, and the broad if not deep virtual networks we're able to maintain.)
As understandable -- and essential -- as the urge to work one's connections is in times like these, there's still an art to doing it. It's rooted in basic common sense and good manners, and it applies in every situation, whether you're sending an e-mail, Facebook message, smoke signal, singing telegram, or (gasp) letter. So, in the interest of maintaining our networking dignity, here are a couple suggestions for reaching out the right way...
It seems so obvious to write about President Barack Obama right now, whether you're a fan or not, that I think I've been avoiding doing it. I was in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day. I saw the camaraderie of the crowds. I watched in amusement as CVS clerks and CPK waiters tried their best to cope. I hummed along as Wyclef Jean sang a sweet but less than Grammy-worthy freestyle MOREFeb 5, 2009 12:43 PM ET
Every time I watch a confirmation hearing or hear talk of a stimulus plan or find out about yet another inauguration to-do, I can't help but think about how much work there actually is to do.
This, I'm told, is a very Gen Y impulse, the product of being young, sleep-deprived, and raised on Mr. Rogers, who told us we really could do whatever we liked. But I think it probably MOREJan 14, 2009 3:22 PM ET
So it's a new year, and in the interest of all of us getting/staying employed in 2009, I thought I'd share some news about a recent beta launch that promises to help. It's called Gotta Mentor, and yes, it is a social networking tool of sorts. Given my very public paranoia about how hokily-titled networking sites are diluting our real connections, you can imagine my skepticism. But where Facebook and MOREJan 7, 2009 1:05 PM ET
Just when I think the Gen Y conversation's gone stale, a new theme emerges that proves me wrong, and this year, it was a social one. But perhaps not the one you'd expect: It wasn't social responsibility, or even social networking, but (our lack of) social connection, and by extension, aptitude. If it seems I've been harping on this a bit (witness "Making true connections in a Facebook world"), I MOREDec 24, 2008 10:44 AM ET
As stressful as the last few weeks have been to anyone with a pulse and a 401(k), nothing's been quite so disturbing to me as the inordinate number of times I've been asked, "With the economy the way it is now, will Gen Y stop being so demanding?" It may sound innocuous at first, but once you've heard the line a few times, it quickly becomes clear that what it really means MOREDec 16, 2008 12:25 PM ET
Author and workplace expert Tamara Erickson -- someone many of you longtime Gig readers will remember from posts such as "Job-hopping Gen Yers aren't disloyal. They're smart," and "Money v. meaningful work, the battle continues" -- has a new book out, and since she's been such a source of good advice, we thought we'd give you a sneak peek.
Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work MORENov 10, 2008 9:05 AM ET
What a day, right? I'm on my way to vote and, frankly, I look a little crazy because I'm so excited that I hardly slept a wink. And it isn't difficult to see why. So much of the Gen Y discussion we've had over the last year or two has been about our entitlement, our coddled youth, our lack of accountability, perspective, and work ethic. Our generation, I've been told MORENov 4, 2008 12:33 PM ET
I saw snow for the first time this season last week. I was on a train from Philadelphia back to New York and -- after spending the night listening to Phillies fans in the streets and waking up at 6 a.m. to spend the stormy morning on a Gen Y panel -- I was exhausted. But when I looked up from my book (Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere) to the snow swirling against the MORENov 3, 2008 1:59 PM ET
It was a strange day on 50th St. yesterday. And for more prosaic reasons than you might think. For the last four years, my walk to the office from our subway stop has gone more or less like this: I stop at the crosswalk in front of the Lehman Brothers building. I marvel at the incredible weirdness of the giant screens on its exterior playing video of a Lehman logo MORESep 24, 2008 11:48 AM ET
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