Networking and Personal Branding Success: A Personal Story

jobs networking personal branding Jan 12, 2011
how dancing and networking led to a job

What does the Texas Two Step have to do with a career in credit risk model development and consulting, networking and personal branding? This seemingly unlikely combination is the story of how I got my first job after finishing graduate school.

Networking can happen anywhere, anytime. When ever you are meeting someone you are networking, whether you realize it or not. You are networking when you meet another colleague at work and when to turn to the person sitting next to you at the ball game or theater. Networking goes beyond "networking meetings" and conference cocktail hours.

You are also living your personal brand as well. How you respond when you meet people in whatever circumstance you're in speaks volumes about you, your character and work ethic. Your personal brand is how you live your life, not an act for special occasions or the office.

So, how did dancing a two step lead to a career in credit risk management and consulting? I first went on the job market in Washington, DC during the government shutdowns in 1995. The shut downs sent a ripple effect throughout the DC area labor market effectively putting a hiring freeze not only on the government but the supporting private sector as well. 

It was after being unemployed for nearly 6 months after graduating that one night I went out dancing. A woman came up to me and asked me to dance so that the "octopus" that had been after her all evening would leave her alone. We danced some more, talked that night, and I explained my situation and exchanged phone numbers and emails. 

A few weeks later, she called me to see if I would be interested in talking with someone in another department in her company about a position. She didn't know if it would be the right position for me or not was happy to pass along my resume to the hiring manager if I wanted. It turns out, she was a project manager at Price Waterhouse, LLP. A couple of weeks later I was on the job building my first financial risk models. I stay there for 5 years before more "accidental" networking led me to Freddie Mac.

The point here is that you are networking all of the time with everyone you meet. You are also living your personal brand all of the time. Did I think I was networking on the dance floor? It never crossed my mind. But I was networking. Was I putting on an act to get a job? No. Simply, I was just being me. Now that's a great way to get a job! 

How have you benefited from networking? What's your story?

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