I spent another week networking. The
activity does not come naturally to me. Well, that's not entirely
true. I get comfortable instant messaging and emailing the people I
know rather than calling them up or going out to lunch. There is a
seductive ease in tossing off an email and adding a check to your
list. It feels remarkably like accomplishment. Unfortunately email
functions a great deal like UDP if you don't receive a reply
there's no way to know if the other person actually interacted withyour message.
At work I control the urge with the old
standby MWA Management by Walking Around. Nothing breaks the
IM/email shackles like getting out of the cube and speaking with
folks. I generally make it a habit to make both a morning and an
afternoon loop though the office, just to keep on top of what's goingon.
A reasonable loop becomes more complex
when I'm networking. I do not live in a densely populated metroplex,
so going for a walk would involve 30 to 40 miles a day. Frankly I
just don't walk that fast. It feels intrusive to call people more
than once or twice a week. I cannot afford to do lunch more than
twice a week with a pregnant wife and two-year old son at home. That
leaves the phone, with it's rapidly vanishing pool of minutes. A
cell-phone plan intended for low volume household conversations lacksthe capacity to deal with two professional job-searches.
Networking events and interviews help
since they give me a set time to get out and interact with others.
It gets me up and interacting with others, a definite plus in the
world of easy impersonal communication I inhabit. Unfortunately it
takes time to get such things scheduled, though I aim for at least
two each week. These will get more complicated to juggle when mywife's search really picks up.
Snail mail gets a
workout too. I realize it's retro, but a heartfelt Thank You
note still strikes me as appropriate and respectful. Acknowledging the time people
give to you, especially in the activity-filled world we live in, is
always the right thing to do.
Which brings me back to
the comfortable mediums of email and instant messaging. They
certainly count as activity even if they do not quite have the
results I might like. They also do serve a valuable purpose,
providing rapid asynchronous communication with people who probablywant to help but need to do so in their own time.
So, I decided to adopt one of my old
tricks to stomp out email activity. When I decide email provides the
appropriate medium for the communication I open the communication
task on my list when I send the email. I only close the task when I
hear back from the other person. This prevents me from thinking of
the task as complete when it really just began. It also givesme a handy list of outstanding communications to track.
Communication is, after all, the stuff
of life in business and in job searching. I suspect it's that way in
the rest of our lives as well though do not tell anyone I admittedthat.