Good Networking Opportunities and Missed Ones
Submitted by Sean Canning, Architect, LEED AP, Member BNI Carmel Valley Chapter
In life and in business there are good and bad opportunities. However in regards to networking, there are only good opportunities and missed ones. Below is an account of each.
As a young architect with a new business, I knew it was important to get the word out, but it wasn’t until the construction of a dream project began in my own backyard that I realized how critical it was. After a year of being in business for myself, my dream project – a ground up residence, still eluded me. About 6 months ago I noticed the construction of a new studio residence directly across the alley from my apartment. I literally watch the construction daily from my living room window. I had met my neighbor previously but never mentioned that I was an architect, surely a missed opportunity that could have been avoided if I had maintained a consistent dialogue.
Some people question, is there ever a bad time to network? Over a decade ago I was considering transferring to New Jersey Institute of Technology to study architecture. One particular day I was at the funeral of my second uncle when my parents introduced me to the husband (Jeff) of a distant family friend. We had a brief discussion about the industry and the school. He actually attended that same college, graduating in the 1980s. I eventually made the decision to transfer to NJIT and pursue a career in the field of architecture. Midway through the 5-year architecture curriculum I contacted Jeff again and he offered me an entry-level position at his firm. I spent the next 4 years working with him, eventually being promoted to a senior member of the staff. Jeff became my professional mentor, which is very important in our industry.
I believe a key to networking is to see the opportunity in every conversation, whether a somber event or a casual greeting. You never know when a chance encounter can be an opportunity you don’t want to miss.