Ebenezer Scrooge Could Teach You a Thing Or Two About Networking
The ghosts of Christmas networking remind you to give back.
By Frank Gullo
T’is the season for holiday parties and festive networking events. Bosses and coworkers stroll through the office in better moods and with higher energy. Although it’s tempting to revel in holiday adrenaline, take a moment to reflect on the year behind before gearing up for the next. Consider the lesson at the heart of the film, A Christmas Carol, in which Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by several spirits on Christmas Eve — Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Take a moment to remember those who helped you to accomplish your goals. Consider how often you show gratitude, provide mentorship to others, or simply open your network to include new contacts. Imagine if the ghosts from the film accompanied you through various stages of your life. Would your ‘film’ look anything like this?
The ghost of Christmas Past takes you back to school and the teachers who played a formative role in educating and molding you. You visit old classrooms , starting with kindergarten, and then grammar and middle school.
You linger in the high school classroom of an inspirational teacher and your eyes widen as you watch your old coach walk past. You might smile when seeing your favorite college professor in the distance, and remember her letter of recommendation that secured your spot into grad school or an internship of choice.
The classrooms shift into offices. You initially glimpse your very first boss who hired you after college followed by the often-challenging manager who enabled you to become a better employee. And, finally, the boss who took you under his wing — the best boss and mentor you ever had.
Christmas Present guides you through your current office. You tour Human Resources, Accounting, IT, Marketing, and the C-suite. The ghost pauses each time you pass the cubicle of a younger employee. You are surprised to realize how many junior coworkers you don’t know by name.
You begin to say hello to someone who started just last week in Benefits, when the scene shifts, and you find yourself at a business networking happy hour. You notice the many young attendees you typically walk past, knowing their business cards will bring you no leads or referrals.
The last stop is a career event at a local university, where you recall once being asked to speak with students about careers in your profession. You may have even meant to go.
You’ll expect Christmas Future to appear more frightening, but he looks like an ordinary middle manager leading you to a conference room decorated for a party. A handful of attendees mill around a cake. One by one, people pause at the door, glance inside, and walk away. You realize that many of the people filing past are employees you’ve worked with — mostly younger workers you never took the time to know, even when assigned to your project team. You turn back and see someone has loaded a presentation. “Happy Retirement,” it reads, and as you count the people still present. You don’t get to ten.
Networking in the Past, the Present, and the Future
We can’t all give back in the same ways. Some of us have limited means and can only give so much money to charity. Others may have ample discretionary time and be able to donate their time and volunteer.
But all of us can be more accommodating with our colleagues and in our networks. We can more freely connect on LinkedIn and interact on Twitter, especially with young people interested in learning and growing. We can answer emails and provide advice.
We can even meet for the occasional coffee or lunch. Think about how Ebenezer Scrooge (after his redemption) would respond if you emailed him a question, invited him to connect on LinkedIn, or asked for his help getting introduced to someone.
Give back. Help out. Mentor. Remember how you got where you are.
Let us keep the spirit alive and well, all through the year. And may that be truly said of us, and all of us.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.