Vocational Discernment Paradigm, Part 2

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month will focus on the art of coaching and the practice of ministry. Some posts will layout insights or frameworks of coaching and some will be stories of coaching that transformed a pastor or congregation. We hope they will inspire you. We hope that inspiration will turn into actual movement in your own life and ministry so that we might move closer to that vision of the church we long for, closer to the vision of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

by Peter Hazelrigg

Yesterday, we looked at the question, “Who are you called to BE?as the first step to yield sustainable success and personal satisfaction in a career. Today, we explore the second component: knowing.

KNOW: Once there is some clarity around the difficult question of Being, there is an opportunity to do some mapping toward a better path of satisfaction and sustainability. That mapping has two primary components – the who and the what.

Hazelrigg picturePart of finding opportunities that align with your values and preferences is your network – who you know. Depending on the kind of opportunity you are considering, your current network can be very helpful. As an example, if you are considering a move to a different position within the same company, your network is likely already in place. If you are considering an opportunity in a different industry all together, then you likely need to do some work developing your network to be able to connect with people where you are interested in exploring. The best time to build a network, by the way, is before you need it. Building a network to find a job when you are unemployed can be much more challenging. New connections in a network are easier to develop when you don’t “need” anything. Need-based networking is necessary at times, but networking for mutual benefit is often more sustainable and impactful.

Our networks can be thought of in at least three parts: natural, intentional, and strategic.

Our natural network is the constellation of people we come into contact with because of the circles we connect with day to day. A vendor you work with is in your network, because you have a natural reason to interact because of the work you do. A friend from your running club is in your network, because you have regular shared experience together. People in your natural network take very little effort to connect with, because we naturally come in contact with them. Cultivating this part of your network then is really a matter of thinking about our conversations and interactions with increased intentionality and curiosity.

Our intentional networks are the varieties of people that used to be in our natural network. There was a time when someone you went to school with was in your natural network, you saw them regularly and had shared experience. After you graduated and moved to different locations, if that person is going to remain connected to you, you must be intentionality to your interactions with them because they no longer just happen. There are people that we do this with, and there are many more that we have “lost touch with” over the years. This is one of the best uses of social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. It can help use find and reconnect with people who were part of our network previously. Most of the time, since these people are known to you, it doesn’t take much to reconnect and open up a connection. A little research and thought will help you develop an intentional, and mutually beneficial, network.

The last aspect of a network is the strategic network. The strategic network is the identification of the people, kinds of positions, and fields that you would like to have connections in, but don’t currently. For example, you may be considering moving from a job in accounting to a career in healthcare. After looking at your natural and intentional network for people in these areas, you identify that expanding connections to the healthcare field will be important. The strategic network becomes possible in a couple of ways. First, is to leverage your natural and intentional network to see who can help connect you to people in healthcare. The second, is to identify ways to create contact with people in the healthcare space. That might mean requesting a meeting with an HR officer in a healthcare organization to learn more about opportunities (this is different than applying for a position). These kinds of informational meetings can often result in other people to contact, thus building your network through a more organic connection of being referred by someone internal to the organization.

One way of assessing your network is by doing a methodical network analysis. As you look at your web of connections, think about the strength of those connections (and your connections’ connections). This can help you be more intentional about the relationships you develop and the conversations you have and might seek out.

The other part of knowing is what you know and what you might need to know moving forward. The most obvious part of this is to consider your education, formal training, and previous experiences. How do those things you already know influence what you might like to do. Are there things that you wish you knew, but haven’t learned yet? What education, training, or experience would you like to have? How can you get exposed to those things to see if it would be a benefit for your future work opportunities. Many times when people are changing industries, there is some formal education or training that is needed. Sometimes people discount the life experience they have had and how to leverage that in exploring new career options.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the final building block — doing.

Hazelrigg headshotRev. Peter Hazelrigg is senior partner at the Pilgrimage Professional Development Group, www.pilgrimpro.com.