While responding to the questionnaire for the strategic planning session, I realized there is a story I can share. It’s personal, not professional, but perhaps still appropriate:
One Sunday, a week before Christmas, I had been chatting with Michael intermittently while attending holiday functions. At one point I was sitting in my car, having left one party, but not yet on the road to the next party. A cold rain was smattering against my windshield as we chatted back and forth.
Earlier in our conversation, I compared professional networking with romantic dating. Michael was quick to agree, and our conversation moved on, but this point stuck with me. The thought wouldn’t leave my head.
I have lived most of my life single, and never had much success romantically, but I have filled my life with unique and rewarding adventures, so I cannot complain. Being alone occasionally bothered me, of course, but it was something I had grown accustomed to. But over the last few years my confidence has grown exponentially – this is one of the reasons I believe I can make the transition to management consulting. Still; I had left my personal life alone, thinking that I would make progress after moving to a new city and starting a new career.
Well, Michael was guiding me through the networking process, and encouraging me to put myself out there, past my comfort zone. And it was working, so when Michael and I were discussing the similarities to dating, the idea clicked into place; I understood what he meant, and could picture my mistakes now.
My approach to communication was undermining my success and hurting my image.
Just two weeks later, I had the chance to test out this theory and use my new approach to networking in a more personal arena. The results were immediate and tangible. The confidence and communication I had used to network worked in a romantic context.
This was the first time I saw the professional development Michael was coaching me through spill over into my personal life. This is a story I will remember for years to come, because it marked a turning point in my life.
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