Fame & Flute: Networking Doesn’t Matter If People Don’t Want to Help You
There is a ubiquitous thought that if you put yourself out there and network, then you will reap the benefits of professional growth. However, working in competitive industries and overall a world where jobs and opportunities are scarce, networking isn’t always successful. In fact, depending on the scenario, it can work against you. There is nuance in connecting with others, and there are situations where one could instead take the route of focusing on personal development and existing professional relationships. Below are a few scenarios to be aware of:
The Junior-Level Employee Dealing with a Toxic Boss
For every story about a professional who worked hard as an intern and assistant to rise to the executive ranks, there are hundreds of junior-level staff who were used and blocked from getting promoted or even getting fired due to extenuating circumstances such as reporting a violation to HR or overall being a threat to a superior that doesn’t want to share the spotlight. If you find yourself in a situation with a boss that is not seeing it for you, it’s best to leave rather than try and change their minds that might be made up. While networking at a company in some cases will help a person jump to another department, there are other cases where depending on the standing of a boss in a company, people won’t extend an olive branch for fear of burning a bridge with a colleague. As a millennial who got sold on the power of “hustling”, I had to learn the hard way that I could not outwork misalignment. What I admire about the Gen Z generation is that they are holding executives accountable for contributing to their growth at companies. I believe this is the fair trade of labor and loyalty to a company if it wants to keep retention high.
The Creative Looking to Develop An Idea
It’s not a new conversation around creatives protecting their work. However, the emergence of the creator economy means that this field is becoming overwhelming to the development executives, strategic partner managers, and other personnel that aid creators in developing their work. It may have been smart to send a cold email or LinkedIn message several years ago to get the attention of one of them, but now it’s an oversaturated task that many are doing with no results. Those executives have the responsibility of finding creators who are already buzzing on the web, and often their professional contacts will put them in touch and refer others who they may not have noticed on their own. It’s not to say there’s a 0% chance of getting a response from a strategic partner manager at a top social media company to respond and offer resources, but it is a more far-fetched idea. It’s better to utilize existing resources on the web to learn how to grow as a creator, as well as prioritize more IRL interactions through mixers, conferences, etc where you can have a face-to-face interaction.
The Aspiring Executive Encountering the Malevolent Mentor
The term “malevolent mentor” is one I have been using for the past few years to describe someone established in a field who purposefully preys on others looking for guidance and uses them instead of offering support. This archetypal person is often called out in the entertainment industry where ideas are stolen, physical and psychological abuse happens, and hazing is rampant. However, it can occur in any industry where an individual takes advantage of a power dynamic one has with someone who looks up to them. The media alludes to how harmful this can be in romantic relationships within an industry, but it can also play out in professional relationships as well. It’s important to recognize when someone emphasizes the need for you to do something for them in exchange for support, and that ask is morally unsound. A while back I watched an episode of Red Table Talk about narcissism that made me realize some of the dangerous people I had dealt with in my past in the workplace and how being aware of certain hurtful behaviors (that are many times normalized or ignored by people around you) would’ve saved me from enduring individuals who painted themselves as being mentors.
Fame & Flute is a “words of counsel” series from Lyfe of Lyle that explores the ethos and lifestyle of personal and professional development in the modern-day.