Breaking Bad: Mobile Networking Mistakes

There was a powerful scene in the fifth season of AMC’s award winning show, “Breaking Bad”. In it, Walter White (a.k.a. Heisenberg, a high school chemistry teacher turned master meth cook and drug lord) offers a potential drug distributor a percent of his risky business. What unfolds is a highly unconventional business dialogue, with far more tension than your typical distribution agreement or salary negotiation.

The episode is entitled “Say My Name.” It’s worth taking the two minutes to watch the scene included above but for our purposes, I’ll summarize. After offering to cut the drug distributor in for a mere 35% of Walter’s growing enterprise, the scene unfolds as follows:

Drug distributor: “Who the hell are you?”
Walter White: “You know… you all know exactly who I am.”
Drug distributor: “Do what… I, I don’t have a damn clue who the hell you are.”
Walter gives the distributor some background of his nefarious activities and the distributor realizes who he’s dealing with.
Walter White: “That’s right… now, say my name. “

I thought of this episode when I was speaking with a client who had texted a former colleague and received a curt text reply along the lines of, “Who the hell are you?” The former colleague went on to say “I’m not in the habit of memorizing phone numbers.”

We’ve all done this before. I know I have, texted someone forgetting that you might not be in their contact list and the recipient had no clue who you were. In fact, this just happened to me this past week with a dear friend, my name wasn’t listed among his contacts and he didn’t recognize my phone number. Once he knew who I was, our communication improved dramatically.

This is important to remember as you’re reaching out to people and networking in your efforts to make a career transition or build relationships. Remember to identify yourself in the text, in other words, “Say your name!”


If You Don’t Schmooze, You Lose: Networking This Holiday Season

Holiday Career NetworkingJob searchers frequently make a major mistake during the holiday season, they stop looking for their next position. That’s a big blunder for two reason: first, companies DO continue to hire this time of year and second, it’s a great time to be networking and building relationships.

Networking is one of the most important tools in your job search. As is often said, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. To expand on that proverb, it’s who you know that gets you in the door and what you know that keeps you there.

‘Tis the season for holiday parties. What a great opportunity to reconnect with people, to find out how they’re doing and let them know what you’ve been up to. Reconnecting with colleagues, old friends and acquaintances is one of the best things you can do to land that plum position you’ve been pursuing or to uncover new and interesting opportunities.

Schmoozing at holiday parties is just one way of taking advantage of the holiday season, another is setting up coffee or lunch dates with people. As things slow down and shopping picks up, people are out and about and more accessible. Taking a breather from the holiday rush to sit down over a cup of coffee with an old friend can be a welcome break.

The thing to remember about networking is it’s about building relationships, having meaningful interactions and not just asking your contacts if they know of any job openings. You want to have a two-way discussion, engaging them on topics that are meaningful to them as well as to you. You want to think to yourself, “what’s in it for them . . .  how can I assist them” while at the same time giving them information on ways they can be helpful to you.

People do like to help others and sometimes it’s just a matter of helping them help you. Having some targeted companies you’d like to approach or people you’d like to meet and asking your contact for the introduction can be the first step on the road to your successful career transition.

So remember, if you don’t schmooze, you lose. By enjoying the holidays and the people in your life, you can make this holiday season a happy and productive one. So get out there with bells on and jingle while you mingle.


How Important is Having a Degree in a Job Search?

I read a recent blog post that got me thinking about my own clients. In the post, Eight Reasons Startup Incubators are Better than Business School, the author makes some very compelling arguments, including making $100,000 rather than spending $100,000 to acquire the “handy” degree.

I have worked with hundreds, actually close to 1,000, executives over the years. Many of them not only did not have an advanced degree, they didn’t have an undergraduate degree either.  The reason, they were able to jump into a great position, making a significant amount of money and it was an opportunity that was just too enticing to refuse.

Others went the path of joining a startup company and growing with that company. That meant wearing many hats and getting a comprehensive “schooling” it what makes a successful company tick.

These professionals went on to have long careers, full of accomplishments and successes and yet when they hit the job market, even now that they’re executives, they’re often worried about their lack of a degree.

I counsel them that their experiences and knowledge gained in the school of hard knocks, can trump a degree, but that they have to use different techniques in their career transitions to be sure they’re seen by decision makers and not screened out early in the process.

That means not relying on things like job boards and typically requires going around HR. In most cases these two channels (which are often inundated with candidates) are screening people out based on a list of selected criteria with a degree frequently being a part of that list.

I agree that real world experience, including startup incubators, can be better than business school. But a case can also be made for having those “handy” degrees. There’s more than one path to the top and a combination of education, giving you a solid foundation on which to build, and real world experience will also help you reach great heights.