“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” – Jim Rohn

If I say you need to be good, authentically good at networking to be successful as a golf professional (or frankly at any other profession where you work with people), what do you say? Or, what do you picture in your mind when you hear someone is “a really good networker?” Do you picture a schmoozer, someone who is fake and contrived and do you see it as an ugly ambition? Maybe you don’t see networking as an issue, but you feel like it’s not easy for you because you’re not outgoing, not social enough, etc.

As the fourth building block for building a career, I would like to suggest networking is not schmoozing, it’s not fake and it’s not ugly. In fact, when it’s done in a genuine manner, with a focus on building relationships, finding connections with others based on the previous three building blocks mentioned (passion and purpose, experiences and mentors) it can be both beneficial and an incredible support to make the great days of the career better and the bad ones more survivable.

In the book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi wrote about the safety net provided by a robust network of social connections: Experience will not save you in hard times, nor will hard work or talent. If you need a job, money, advice, help, hope, or a means to make a sale, there’s only one surefire, fail-safe place to find them – within your extended circle of friends and associates.’”

That is so true, and it’s been a reality in my work experience not to mention my personal life experience.

A fact for the golf industry (and for any other people-centric business) is this: Some of the best jobs are “earned” based on the candidate’s network. Some of those jobs are never posted online, published by PGA Career Services on our Job Board, or even on LinkedIn or Indeed. Instead of many people applying for the position, about 3-12 get invited to consider applying based on the quality of their network, their relationships (especially their mentors) and their qualifications. (This may not seem fair to the rest of those who’d like to apply, but the ones who are invited to apply have been interviewing for the specific opportunity all along, whether they knew it or not.) Note: we will be covering the “always interviewing principle” in the Block #5 soon.

 Before we jump to any conclusions, let’s consider what networking really is and what it is not.

 Networking is NOT:

  • Misrepresenting oneself, with a public persona (eg. “backslapping,” “glad-handing,” etc.)
  • It’s not acting the part of the role you feel you need to play, attempting to show you want to know more about others because it’s needed “in that moment”
  • It’s not like a politician campaigns, looking for the support and the vote in the short term

Networking is:

  • Actively building meaningful relationships with “community members” and stakeholders at the club, course or facility you work for
  • Actively connecting others who have the same passion, the same purpose or desire. An example would be those who love golf at a club, course or similar with that love being the “ante” that brings them to the table to connect. Going further, it would be playing the role of “a hub” willingly, to help others build their network (so they can benefit from the connections to “make the great days of their golf even better and the bad ones still pretty enjoyable”)
  • Actively building meaningful supportive and collaborative relationships (based more in giving and sharing) with other professionals, employers, owners, CMAA, GCSAA or similar allied associations
    • Providing value based on what you can provide, assist or support expecting little to nothing in return is where it starts (knowing and believing that the “law of reciprocity” will eventually kick in and provide mutual benefit to all connected parties)
  • Actively working on your ability to communicate and express yourself so you can effectively influence other people to improve a situation (to add positivity, to add connection, to de-escalate or add meaning in that moment to make it more memorable)
  • Having an intentionality and awareness that every single interaction is a chance for either “building up” or “tearing down” your professional reputation and this ability to influence others through relationship or not

Being good (or even great) at networking requires one to understand the benefits of building relationships with a servant’s heart, a great attitude and a willingness to be authentic to yourself, your sense of humor and more. Being genuinely interested in “how the world is occurring for others” is a great place to start.

If you have become a good networker and have many whom you can “lean into” in that network (because they can “lean into you”), it is a wonderful thing. And it is the reason we are all here, as it’s the relationships that make a life worth living. I’m reminded of Simon Sinek’s quote, “Why did you get out of bed this morning, and why should anyone care?” With a meaningful professional and personal network, there will be plenty who not only want you to get out of bed in the morning, they will genuinely care if you do or not. (That’s a good sign of a life being lived well.) You could say the same for your professional career, as they say the average person spends about 90,000 hours working.

Let’s work together to ensure that our investment in that career is time well spent and we can say we made “our one career really count.”

 

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections

Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260

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