Home > Building Business Relationships, Building PEOPLE Relationships > On Being Opportunistic about Networking (Guest Post)

On Being Opportunistic about Networking (Guest Post)


Most often asked question, “How are you always successful?” My answer is always the same; 1) I’m not; but like any gambler, you only hear of the successes, not the failures 2) I never underestimate the power of a person; I seek out mentors, find people who are smarter than me; and I latch on! So it only made sense that my first guest post was written by Allison Cheston – Career Expert, Marketer, Mentor, and most importantly – authentically unique “Baby Boomer” who UNDERSTANDS Gen Y!

As a Boomer who spends a lot of time with Gen Y’s, I can attest to the value of connecting with all kinds of people to ask and answer questions, trade information and share expertise. It’s what I do, all day long. And judging by the number of people contributing on sites like Brazen Careerist, it’s a pretty popular activity.

Why is it popular? It’s the combination of the sense of community and the appeal of crowd sourcing. The idea that you can post a question such as “Do you know any branding firms in Chicago?”, and within several minutes to an hour, not only receive a list of firms but often, someone willing to connect you to someone at that firm. Without knowing you. That’s amazing.

The majority of Boomers don’t operate that way—most of them want to be able to check someone out before making a referral. All the books on networking, like Never Eat Lunch Alone and Love is the Killer App—they’re all directed at Boomers. Because Boomers always want to understand the purpose of networking, what is the end goal. Or they’re not interested.

It’s one of the great things Boomers can take from Gen Y’s. Of course there’s risk attached to it, but there can be great rewards.

Let me give you a direct example of the power of being opportunistic when it comes to networking. I’m writing a book: In the Driver’s Seat: Work-Life Navigation Skills for Young Adults. In the spring, I posted requests on Brazen Careerist.com, LinkedIn and Facebook, inviting Gen Y college grads to interview with me. Because these are Gen Y’s, they were responsive. They loved the idea of the book and they wanted to be part of it. Some of my Boomer friends asked if I was paying them. I was not.

One of the first people to respond and interview with me was Jamie Nacht Farrell. We hit it off, and she sent me a huge number of her friends to interview. And then she hired me to coach her. And then she became my #1 editor for the book. And now she is making deals for us to turn the book into a curriculum both for online use and as a companion product to a variety of career sites catering to young adults. And by the way, I live in New York City, Jamie lives in Dallas and there are 20 years between us.

This probably seems totally plausible to those of you reading this who happen to be Gen Y’s. But from where I sit, I can tell you it’s unusual. And that’s too bad.

The first two ingredients necessary: openness on both sides and a generosity of spirit. And Jamie has that in spades. Not to mention her genius for packaging and selling people and products. So we’re a great team.

The message: With risk come rewards. No matter what your stage of life, stay open to opportunities and network with people you might not cross paths with in your daily life. That’s the beauty of the Internet but you have to be ready to take advantage of it.

Allison Cheston
Career Advisor
Contact Me If You’d Like to be Interviewed for My Book!

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  1. February 2, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I have to confess, as a GenXer, I get along better with Millennials than with boomers. (Allison, as a young boomer, I’m sure you’d be an exception!)

    Have you read The Fourth Turning? Some very thought-provoking generational research taken in historical perspective. It was written in 1997, but astonishingly prescient about our country’s current state of political and financial problems. Warning: As a result, it is quite dark about our near future prospects — don’t read it if you’re in a sad or bad mood.

    • February 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Jake – I’m (this is Jamie) going to grab off Amazon and read. I’m sure I’ll pass it off to Allison when I’m done. Will let you know my thoughts; sounds a bit cynical?

      • February 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm

        No, it’s not cynical at all, just foreboding. They basically examine, from a heavily researched historical perspective, how the four different archetypical generations interact as they progress through different stages in childhood/young adulthood/leadership/elderhood.

        At the risk of oversimplifying, society goes through 80-year cycles, and has been doing so for hundreds of years. Each 20-year period is a “turning,” and we are currently in the beginning of the fourth, which is a crisis. The historical allegories are the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Great Depression/WWII — hence my warning. FWIW, Millennials are known as a “Hero” generation, as was the G.I. Generation.

        Anyway, well worth the read & will be interested to hear what you think.

    • February 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks, Jake, for giving me the benefit of the doubt 🙂 I will check out The Fourth Turning.

  2. February 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Hey there Allison –

    Actually, I’m the author of Love Is The Killer App and I didn’t write the book for Boomers. I wrote it for a new generation of 20 and 30 somethings that wanted to find success in our new connected world. In fact, I was at Yahoo at the time I wrote it.

    Also, I warned readers in the book to be ‘smart networkers,’ knowing a lot about people they are getting ready to share their network with.

    I do appreciate your post, though, as it gives good advice. But please don’t generalize books until you’ve given them a full read and a fair shot. You’ll appreciate that treatment when your book comes out …

    • February 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      Tim – this is Jamie (my blog), not Allison (although I’m sure she’ll respond); I haven’t yet read your book, however am excited to as I am a “30” yr old so I fall right in your demographic. Thank you for leaving a comment and I’ll be on your page and purchasing your book this weekend. I’m certain Allison would be interested in your response on her book as well as your is so highly respected. I’ll shoot you over an email later this weekend and again, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

    • February 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Tim,

      All I can say is “Oops!” I read your book when it first came out and I confess, what stayed with me most was the idea of smart networking, not the target audience. So I apologize! And you are right, I will appreciate a closer read and more accurate reporting when my book comes out:)

      But regardless, it was nice to get your attention!

      Allison

  3. February 3, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I’m intrigued; excited to read – ordered ( ; thanks!

    Jake P :

    No, it’s not cynical at all, just foreboding. They basically examine, from a heavily researched historical perspective, how the four different archetypical generations interact as they progress through different stages in childhood/young adulthood/leadership/elderhood.

    At the risk of oversimplifying, society goes through 80-year cycles, and has been doing so for hundreds of years. Each 20-year period is a “turning,” and we are currently in the beginning of the fourth, which is a crisis. The historical allegories are the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Great Depression/WWII — hence my warning. FWIW, Millennials are known as a “Hero” generation, as was the G.I. Generation.

    Anyway, well worth the read & will be interested to hear what you think.

  4. February 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I am glad I found your website on twitter. It’s good to see such information being shared.

  5. February 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Great article! I think you are wise and practical, right on target! You have talent… Congratulations!

  1. February 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

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