In my last blog, I wrote about how networking can hurt you if you strive to “lose friends and alienate people.” That may be an excellent movie title but not words to live by. In this part I focus on the good, and how you can use networking to advance your career.
My full-time job: Obtained and advanced by networking
Generally, the more appropriate way to leave a job is to be extremely nice to everyone and keep in touch after you leave. You never know when that will help you, especially if you stay in the same general geographical location.
This has worked out well for me in several instances. In my current job, I had worked with one of the engineers at another company. I got along with him very well at the first company, and he helped me get the job at the second. Not only that, during negotiation it was extremely helpful to have him there to provide some guidance. Some companies just won't negotiate on certain things (like vacation time), but others will. Having a “man on the inside” is excellent to find out more information.
Besides the process of actually getting the job, it was great to have someone I knew in the new job to introduce me to my new coworkers. It takes a while to get used to new faces, so this helps smooth your transition out. Additionally, having someone who you can trust that's been with a company for several years is a great resource for other more ambiguous questions. What's tolerated for company Internet use, who should you be nice to, or even whether or not you can take a snack break in the morning are good questions for a former/current colleague.
My gig at EE Times: Another product of networking
You might have inferred from this column that writing for EE Times isn't my full-time job. Interestingly, my part-time writing “career” started on Hackaday.com under the editorship of EE Times' own Caleb Kraft. After a year and a half of that gig, Caleb told me that he would have to let me go. With a gig like that you never know when things are going to change, and the site was going through a major transition. I wasn't too upset, and said something like “nice working with you.” It wasn't personal, or even a reflection on my performance, but even if that had been the reason, there's no reason to leave on a bad (or possibly worse) note.
Fast forward a few months later, and after keeping in touch (and on good terms) with Caleb, he offered me a gig writing for EETimes.com. It's been a fun assignment, and in addition I've been able to do several specialty articles for Hackaday.
Whether you're a freelancer, business owner, or traditional employee, networking is an excellent way to get noticed and advance your career. It's been said that “It's not what you know, it's who you know.” This may be true, but just as knowledge can be increased through study, schooling, or experimentation, “who you know” can be increased as well. If you both know the right people, and know what you're doing, you certainly have a recipe for success.
— Jeremy Cook is a manufacturing engineer with 10 years' experience and has a BSME from Clemson University. In his spare time he enjoys writing for DIYtripods.com.