There are “dog people” and “cat people.” Then there are those of us who seem to live among them all. I live in a home that at one point or another has housed a total of 2 dogs, 4 cats, 3 gerbils, a hamster, a bunny, and three snakes. Let’s just say I spend a lot on tape rollers…
As a pet lover I am intrigued by the idea of pet adoption organizations offering “pet walking.” You see it outside PetSmart on the weekends and here on campus from time to time. The idea is pretty simple. If you don’t have a pet to take on a walk, come walk one of ours. The pet likes it. You like it. Everyone is happy. But is that all?
Well, no. The whole goal of pet adoption agencies is to get their pets adopted. Pet walking is just one way to get you to bond with an animal. Usually a dog; I don’t see many people walking a duck around campus. When you get back you can pet them, maybe toss a ball, give them some water. But you walk away feeling a connection to the little rug chewer you just played with. Possibly thinking about adopting him. Possibly turning around to do that. Or maybe coming back the next week to do that.
As I sat in my truck getting ready to leave PetSmart a few weeks ago, it struck me that I had just been offered the opportunity to “network” with a dog. Networking, like pet walks for dogs, gives you exposure to people. You get to talk, interact, and discuss issues. The dog looks at you with those big, soulful eyes and says, “Wasn’t that fun? Take me home…” The dog helped you fulfill a need. A need for companionship, unconditional love and affection, slobber, whatever. Now you need to help fulfill that dog’s need. A need for a permanent home.
People who are really good at networking will tell you it has nothing to do with shaking hands and kissing babies. That’s for politicians. People who are productive networkers know that you are connecting to people to figure out what they need. What resources, connections, or advice will help them accomplish their goals. Once you know that, you help connect them to people or resources that can satisfy that need. If you’ve networked enough, you probably know people who can help each other and satisfy their needs congruently. You do that over and over because what happens is it comes back to you. Eventually someone is connecting you to someone who can help satisfy one of your needs. Karma in action!
So when people say you need to network to find a job, they don’t mean that you need to just kennel up at a meeting and look cute. You need to get out and discover what the other attendees do, think, and feel. Let them walk you around a bit (no leash required). Make that contact. Then, after the event, reach back out. Offer to buy them coffee. Find out about what they do, how they got there…and what they need!
Here’s a way to say it…”Thank you so much for spending the last 20 minutes telling me about how you became a CPA. Ultimately that’s what I would like to do as well, and it’s helpful to hear how others got there. In return, can I ask if there is anything that I can help you with?”
Dean Jarley is fond of saying that as students, you are “cute and cuddly.” Just like the dogs at Petsmart. Soon you will need a permanent home. Use this time wisely before you outgrow your kennel!
PS…the animals at the top of the page were all adopted at our local SPCA. Adopt. They’ll love you more for it. Seriously.