Reluctant Harry: Networking Redefined – Part Three.

True story. (adapted for confidentiality)

One of my clients, Harry, is aspiring to be an academic editor for the latter part of his   successful career. He wants to start by getting his feet wet through freelance writing while he still holds his position as IT Director, and noticed a job posting for a temporary project editor at a book company specializing in textbooks.

Now, just for your information, Harry tends to undervalue his writing talent and underestimate the power of networking.

Harry is in sort of a rut. He has done a darn good job of convincing himself that editing cannot be a part of his future. At least not getting paid for it.

‘It’s too late’ is Harry’s favorite phrase.

Upon seeing the job posting, Harry’s inner critic immediately started mumbling

You’ll never get this job – they probably want editors who are experienced or at least have academic backgrounds.

So Harry didn’t take any action.

After talking about how unproductive it was to dismiss a potential opportunity just because of the negative chatter in his brain, I convinced Harry to apply.  He did.

Did he hear anything back in the ten days? No. The black hole of Internet applications is alive and well.

I suggested he look on LinkedIn to see if he found anyone who previously worked at the company or who works there now.  He reluctantly agreed to look, saying ‘I doubt if I’m connected to anyone in that world – it’s probably a waste of time’.

Lo and behold, there were dozens of people listed and even a few that were only 2 degrees of separation in his network.  I thought I might have seen a glimmer of hope in Harry’s eyes (not sure).

Harry immediately wanted to send a message to one of the HR people at the company, asking for the job. I suggested that he try taking a more subtle approach.

There was a person (Mike) listed that currently works in the department that he had applied to.  All Harry needed to do was ask one person (Sally) in his network if she would be willing to connect him to Mike.

Harry didn’t think that this would work, but agreed to give it a try. He clicked on the  “Request an Introduction” link and wrote his notes to both Mike and Sally. His note was friendly and professional, yet had the tone of a cover letter asking for the job.

“How about just asking to have a conversation so you could learn more about the company”? Good idea.

Harry heard back from Mike within 48 hours, and they scheduled a time to talk by phone. Mike thought Harry was very articulate and they discovered they both had a love for sailing. Harry learned a bit about the company as well as the name of the hiring director. (Mike was very generous in sharing this).

Harry contacted the hiring director, met with her the following week, and is now working on his very first part-time editing project. And yes, he is getting paid for it.

Harry is reluctant no more.

Go Harry.


One Response

  1. As a writer, editor, and writing instructor, I was glad to read this post. So many people who want careers writing and editing are afraid to take the first steps to pursue their dreams. And too many people forget the importance–and rewards– of networking.

    I will share this with MY network and with those who want to segue into editing careers. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

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