Whether you are fully employed, working part-time, or maybe even entirely out of work altogether and not even needing to look for employment, it’s always a good idea to keep up on what’s going on. Now that could mean anything from local events and activities on your block, through news happening in your town, or it could mean the international stage.
Now staying up on things can be as easy as listening to the news once in the morning and later near the end of the day for the really big world-wide events, and equally as easy locally as reading your local newspaper once a week.
You see what you’re really doing when you spend a little bit of time each day finding out what’s going on around you is staying relevant and informed. That information you get will help you when you are at any kind of event where chit-chat and networking takes place. So many people get terrified and experience anxiety at the prospect of such gatherings because they are primarily worried about what to say or talk about.
Well you’ll find that talking about something other than yourself to get things rolling is a good way to begin. Just saying, “What do you think about the situation in Egypt?” if you started a conversation with someone today, be relevant and current because there’s a protest occurring there and yesterday in the news it was reported that over 630 people have been killed by the military. Only one of two things will happen; either the other person will pick up on your lead and respond, or they will say, “Sorry I’m not up on that – what’s going on?”
If you are employed, and perhaps happily so, you still might want to one day seek a promotion or a lateral move in your organization. If you can form relationships with those at your workplace, it can benefit you when it comes time to make that application because people have some idea of who you are, and you have visibility. One way to do that is to communicate and talk with others, and you can’t just expect to go up and form a nice cosy relationship with the Hiring Manager on the day you hand him your resume if you’ve never met before. That’s too artificial and self-serving and will expose you. Best to nurture a relationship now.
And if you are unemployed? Well the benefits of staying current are even more significant. You should be staying connected with as many people as you can in order to generate leads from as many different people as you can. The first few words out of your mouth shouldn’t always be, “Hi Steve, know of any jobs?” The art of conversation and well-developed interpersonal skills suggests there are some standard rules for that kind of dialogue; you meet, you talk a little and then get down to your point.
Of course there will be some who will argue that they’d rather just have you come out and not waste their time with idle chatter and just tell them what it is you want. There is some truth and value to this point of view. However, it all depends on the person, their time availability, the setting for the meeting, the nature of the work they do, how many others are around etc. Spend too much time dancing around what you really want, and you may find you get interrupted by the other person who says, “Did you want something?”
Selfishly of course, it’s good for your brain matter to learn new things, to decide for yourself what opinion you have of an issue, and to hear conflicting and different points of view. The news is a good source typically of hearing two sides to most issues, and sometimes more still. Letters to the editor in local papers often come down on different sides of local issues, and your left to see the pros and cons for yourself. When you learn that most issues aren’t black and white and that differing views often have merit, you are really using the same skills that you’d use in a job if faced with different choices on how to complete a project.
Did you pick up on that last sentence? The same skill set you would use to receive information, process it in your brain, form an opinion, and then come out with a point of view, is the same skill you will use in the world of work on a daily basis. You may have one idea on what should be the procedure for ordering toner at the office, or who should order it, how often and from what supplier. Somebody else might differ and come up with an entire different way to address the need for toner or not using toner to begin with!
And wouldn’t it be nice to be thought of as someone whose generally up on things and has a broad knowledge of the world? At least if you’re going to have an opinion on something, you’ll have perspective and a basis for your view.