Category Archives: Career Advice

Don’t Do This in Building a Network

Taking a short-cut to relationship-building is like walking into a five-star restaurant expecting to get your food in a McDonald minute. It won’t happen. There is a mismatch between expectation and delivery. Sometimes, doing just a little bit more helps pave the way for successful outcomes. (Think of the waiter who signs the check with a smiley face).

I am fortunate that my blog has been designated as one of the “Top 60 Jewish Blogs”, however even this speck of notoriety means that my blog door is open wide to all kinds of invitations. I receive requests to recommend schools, camps, blogs, merchandise, and causes. Some of the requests are heartfelt, some reflect a severe lack of professionalism.

An email I received started with this salutation:

“Dear Sir/Madam“…. (really, you weren’t able to personalize your request at all?) At least demonstrate that you’ve done a little bit of homework on who you’re trying to reach, no?

Next, there were almost 20 recipients listed in the “To” line (isn’t deciding to ‘open cc’ everyone an accepted faux pas?)

It ended with:

“I am requesting assistance in helping me and them (sic) promote my blog by linking it to yourblog/website (sic). Any assistance you can give me will be deeply appreciated. Thanking you in advance. Feel free to contact me with any questions.”

The blog is, in fact, related to my area of interest…so I had to think about how to respond.

Should I have ignored the request? (I couldn’t). Should I have spent a considerable amount of time coaching this individual on how to go about a solicitation? (I didn’t).

After considering it a bit, I decided to answer with just one small recommendation so as not to overwhelm with too much negativity and I wished the blogger success.

And, as long as I’m on the subject of networking, I receive multiple requests to connect on LinkedIn without any introduction at all. This must be such a widespread practice that LinkedIn recommends writing a note to those you don’t know. Really? The platform for business networking needs to suggest that?

I’m stumped. If connecting with a particular person is so important, why wouldn’t someone take the time to introduce themselves? If you met me at a Business Card Exchange, would you just show up and say “Looking to connect” and leave things at that?

Precisely because connections occur asynchronously I think even more time should be spent on the civility of connections. Don’t we all agree that creating a warm exchange is even more important when using tech tools? In these cases, a typical ‘elevator speech’ works well in person or in writing.

Okay, last one. Have you ever received this request from a potential contact? “Please feel free to call or email at your earliest convenience.”

Really? You’re interested in reaching out to me and you want me to follow-up? I should feel free?

Well, thank you, it felt great to share this with you.  Oh, and by the way, feel free to contact me. No, really.

A Short List of What the Jewish Community Should Do for Teens

Check out the really short list

Check out the really short list

In what seems a long time ago, I wrote a post about the Jewish community’s ‘in-the-box-thinking.’  As a novice to the blogging world, I feared the worst because it was the first time I shared my dissatisfaction about how my local Jewish community was functioning.

Well, sometimes the blogosphere can be eerily silent.  I didn’t receive a single comment or e-mail about it (though who did I think was possibly reading my blog anyway???)

Helping teens figure out their connection to the Jewish community and general direction in life is a worthy goal for those of us in the Jewish communal world.  After all, if we don’t clarify our mission, we’re like a broken compass.  No directional pull, no navigational tools–just spinning like crazy.

So, I’d like to create a short wish list for what I’d love to see happen in the Jewish community.

These things would help teens navigate better:

1. Define the Alphabet Soup. Ready? Do you know the differences between the JCC, JFCS, JCRC, JFGP. Great. Do you think our teens do? How about AIPAC, ZOA, or AJC? Wait, it gets more complicated, how about these fundraising organizations: AFMDA, FIDF, AFHU? Or these viable options for semester abroad programs in Israel: EIE, TRY, MUSS? Well, you can see the challenge. We either could use an app, or a catch-all portal to make all this accessible and understandable.  Whether we agree with an organization’s politics or not, Jewish life should be approachable. Doing this one thing could prompt all kinds of things, from learning the scope of needs the Jewish community deals with, to seeing how responsive the Jewish community is, to thinking of Jewish jobs beyond the synagogue.

2. Invite a teen to sit on a committee where communal activities are discussed. How can we get our teens invested in the future of a community in which they are not real stakeholders? I’m not talking about teen versions of funding and allocations committees, who do a great job of getting teens involved in what it takes to raise money and make decisions about where it goes. I mean positions at the table.  It’s called influence.  Teens know and appreciate when they ‘re offered it and when they have it.

3. Match Jewish teens with Jewish professionals in the field who can give them a sense of what it means to work in the community.  Their knowledge of professional positions in the Jewish community is limited to perhaps these careers: Rabbi, Cantor, Education Director, Youth Advisor, and Teacher. BUT they won’t have an idea that an interest in business, management, marketing, or any number of other careers may find a place in the Jewish community. There are teen mentorship programs that are for a select few, but we need to think broad and wide. There are many teens who are unaware of the many job opportunities in the Jewish communal world. Here, I’m not focused on the dentist or lawyer who happens to be Jewish. I’m specifically talking about connecting teens with Jewish professionals. Again, does our mission match our actions? We want Jewish leaders….how are we growing them?

4. Most Jewish students don’t have a clue about what the local Jewish community near their college campus has to offer, and don’t have a way of connecting with it for jobs, internships, mentorships, etc.  College internships. Somehow, we leave the college population to Birthright, Hillels and Chabad, and less visible, Meor and Aish. Yet, students are looking for real life experiences. Jewish communal organizations should do recruiting on campus. In a time where extra staffing is needed, we can provide teens with the job experiences they need.

Let’s stop the spinning and begin to help teens navigate.

image courtesy of pds photostream