November is, apparently, National Novel Writing Month. I learned about this special month-long effort to get more people writing from a July 2011 TEDtalk by Matt Cutts about trying something new for 30 days. So, here I am, trying something new – I too will aim to write a blog post for each of the next 30 days. I don’t know that I will actually end up with a novel, but a blog seems reasonably doable. Plus, I do have some information to share with those who are interested. It’s a concept that I call “Coffee-Lunch-Coffee.” My hope is to flesh out this concept that has had such a profound impact on my life – both personally and professionally in an effort to help others to benefit from its approach.
And, now, the disclaimer: I have never blogged before! I am well aware that even as I write this message (and the at least 29 more that will follow), I am writing only to myself! Should someone stumble upon my commentary, I would welcome feedback as to whether my concepts resonate. Thanks for your interest!
First, a bit of background…
The dawn of Coffee-Lunch-Coffee really came in November of 2007. After having been with the same company for 9+ years, mind you in an equal number of positions, I decided it was time to leave! For years, my company, Sprint, had been giving out what they termed “voluntary separation packages,” or “VSPs” – severance packages to people who self-selected to be laid off by the company. I’d always looked down on the VSP approach to leaving a job. It seemed like a bad idea. I was of the opinion that it is easier to find a job when you have a job. That was all well and good until I realized how difficult it was to both devote 100% of my time and energy to my job and to my team… while devoting similar energy and effort into looking for a job. For the first time, I decided that I would, in fact, raise my hand and self-select to leave the company.
OK… so now what? I couldn’t just leave. I had to get approval to be granted a VSP which was necessary for us as a family since I was not financially prepared to simply quit.
Where to start? I needed to NETWORK! It was quickly, even painfully, obvious that I had been heads down, overly focused on my insular networking at Sprint. I had few external broader contacts and it was time to turn that around.
Long story short… I was finally granted a VSP in June of 2008. I was out of work, aside from a few odd consulting gigs here and there, for nine months. During that time, I attended 160 meetings and met 200 people – all through networking. It was that network that landed me several amazing opportunities and has continued to pay dividends ever since.
This blog is my attempt to document, in simple terms, how I developed and established a rock solid network that led me to multiple, fabulous opportunities and that continues to support me today. It is meant as a practical guide that you, dear reader, can review very quickly and put to practice immediately as you continue on your own professional journey.
Tomorrow… how to begin the networking process… pre-Coffee-Lunch-Coffee-prep.