Networking has been a way of life for me since before I broke into the world of business– with no business background!
Determined to change my life for the better, I moved myself and one small child from the sleepy town of Wichita to Chicago. At the time, I felt that I needed to mix in with a more enlightened business crowd than the one I saw in Wichita. Chicago was a natural choice for me at the time; it was an advertising agency center (Madison and Michigan Avenues vied for dominance then), it had manufacturing, it had a quick business pace, and there were lots of lots of enlightened people.
And access to lots of people was what I needed.
I knew – even then – that I was a networker (even though that term was not used then).
I moved to Chicago in October of 1974. President Nixon had just resigned, Chicago still had a very bad rap (after the riots of 1968), and the city was a’bustle with business.
I knew 2 people when I first got there: a CBS newsman and the sister of a friend of my recently-divorced husband. Those two people provided me with contact names that took me off into two very different network trajectories. And those people, of course, provided me with even more names and different types of networks. I knew intuitively that “connecting the dots” was going to get me where I wanted to go.
My goal was to get myself to the career that I wanted (I didn’t know what it was at the time) and to make me and my little family (single mom plus one 19-month child) comfortable and productive.
Soon I had connected with other families with children*, and I was increasingly being told that I should “be a headhunter”. (I had not heard the term before, and didn’t know that this was a profession.) However, I could increasingly see the wisdom of my heading in the people recruitment business because – in my daily life – I was recruiting/meeting the people I needed to know.
The first job I took was at the bottom rung of the professional “world” I chose to be a part of: a contingency recruiting firm that specialized in placing “communications” people. (I left that firm after 9 months to join another small firm that was even more targeted to the advertising agency business, and was soon to start my own company: Erika Brown & Associates.)
Discerning networking had positioned me right where I belonged to jumpstart my career, and networking had become my tactic for moving forward in my professional life. I got on the phone, started meeting people in the ad agency business, and successfully recruited and placed some of Chicago’s finest creative talent in the top creative groups in the city. What a blast I had! Here was little ole me – a Montana-born girl with no business background advising the creative leaders of Chicago on their hiring choices!! I could hardly believe my luck.
erika hanson brown
STELLAR Connections LLC
denver, co usa
daily connectoring® blog: http://erikahansonbrown.posterous.com
*One of those now-grown kids that I had come to know through that early networking became one of the prime architects of the successful Obama presidential campaign. Thanks to her, I was a guest of the campaign at the Denver DNC, and was seated directly in front of Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, and the whole darn family!