Submitted Question | Networking Within and Outside Your Company

Hello Tamara, 

Congratulations on launching your new web site! I wish you a lot of success with the project!

I am happy to seize this opportunity and ask you a question about a career change within the same industry.  Shall one concentrate her/his efforts on networking within the current organization or pursue outside opportunities?

My Response:

I don't believe that you should limit yourself to networking only within your organization, even if you like your company, your current position AND you are pleased with your compensation. It's always good to talk to people across your industry, because that is how opportunities can arise; and you never know from where an opportunity will come. Having a casual conversation doesn't necessarily mean that you are actively pursuing another position and can be framed in such a way that doesn't warrant any commitment. Networking across the industry could also provide you with useful intel that can be used to mark yourself to market.  

For those of you who read Lose the Gum, you would have read the story about how enamored I was with JPMorgan, as my first employer. What I didn’t mention in the book was on how many other opportunities I closed the door, because I wasn’t willing to even consider leaving JPM.  Bigger roles, more money, even higher titles were all left on the table. Looking back, I probably missed out on a number of career changing opportunities.  A lesson learned only in hindsight.

The same goes for networking outside of your industry. You never know what opportunity will present itself. When I was a summer intern at Bankers Trust, my mentor was a women who led our Finance department. Today she is the CFO of one of the most prestigious museums in the world. Another former colleague spent twenty years as an investment banker and now he is the head of Strategy & Business Development for a global software company. My closest professional colleague, who spent fifteen years in various HR roles, is now the head of Human Resources of a billion dollar started-up in Silicon Valley. These are just a few examples of how the recognized benefits of experience in one industry were parlayed into senior level positions in another industry. At more junior levels, you may have to highlight the value that you would bring to the table as a concession for lack of relevant industry experience.

In summary, let me highlight three points related to your question:

1.     Don’t be so committed to your company and its brand that you shut the door on other opportunities. Instead consider all your options and weigh them against one another. Making a pros and cons list can be useful tool that helps you make a thoughtful assessment.

2.     Skills are transferable and can be applied to add value to companies outside your current industry. Think outside the box when considering career opportunities outside your industry.

3.     There is tremendous value in networking beyond just finding a new job. Talking to people and listening to what they have to say is one of the the most valuable resource that we have available to us; yet few know how to effectively harness that power. So yes, network! And stay tuned, there will be a future blog post on this topic….

I hope that my perspective provided some useful insight.  Let me know, in the comments below. And thanks for reaching out with your question.

Best regards,