Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something Wonderful is Happening

With everyone talking about the condition of the economy, the current levels of unemployment, and the continued pessimism in the media, it is hard to recognize that something wonderful is happening among the ranks of the unemployed. This is the fourth time I have been forced to find work within the past ten years, but this time is the first time I can remember when others have been willing to do so much to help me and to help one another. And I don’t mean the government.

For the first time in recent memory, those among the ranks of the unemployed are making a concerted effort to combine talents to maximize the impact they can have in the job marketplace. Personal referrals have long been the primary means of matching people with positions, but those matches were always made by those who were currently employed- or by those they hired to make the matches. What is amazing about our current environment is that it is the unemployed themselves who are doing most of the work in matchmaking. Job clubs and networking groups are proliferating in record numbers, and tools, like LinkedIn, are growing with unprecedented rapidity.

In fact, a friend of mine, Nick Schaffer, has coined a term for this new spirit of cooperation: Windmill Networking. In essence, this concept builds on the fundamental premise that, in order to be successful, one must first help others to be successful. This philosophy has been around for years and has been espoused by business thought leaders like Harvey McKay and others. Neal takes this basic principle and applies it to the current business climate and the tools we have to implement it‑ primarily LinkedIn. His approach to networking is proactive, forward thinking, and selflessly pragmatic. You can learn more about Windmall Networking at (http://windmillnetworking.com/blog/), or, if you are patient, Neal’s new book will soon be available on Amazon. Both are worth reading just to gain Neal’s perspective on “career insurance.”

Another pioneer of this new spirit of cooperative (and productive) networking in my local area is a gentleman named Tim Tyrell-Smith. Tim is especially remarkable because he has a very nice job, has a family and, it could be argued, he does not “need” to network. Yet Tim spends countless hours every week producing a remarkable blog (http://blog.spinstrategy.com/) and developing helpful tools which he shares for FREE! Why? Because Tim knows he has a rare gift for clearly articulating sage advice, the rare discipline to consistently do so several times a week, a generous spirit, and a very wise perspective on his long-term success.

Many others are also spending countless hours in service to help those who are looking to find honorable and satisfying work. They lead seminars, make presentations, host events, design and distribute materials, and provide coaching in an altruistic effort to help former and future coworkers. I can think of three specific gentlemen who volunteered three hours of every Monday night for the past seven years to help their fellow man, and have inspired hundreds of others to contribute their time and talent as well. I also know a doctor who has been employed for three years, and continues to organize and lead monthly networking events for people looking for positions within the Healthcare field. Heaven holds special rewards for people like this. I can say it has been my honor to become colleagues, if not friends, with some of these very fine people.

It is truly an exciting time to be looking for work- and not just for the usual reasons!

There is one other distinguishing factor that makes this current economic ‘event’ a remarkable one, but I think I’ll save that for a later discussion.