How do you talk to friends about work?
As mentioned in a previous post, I recently left a full-time job in the family business (public relations). At first I stayed quiet about it, only disclosing the change to a few friends - and honestly, I was surprised by their reactions. Not because they didn't support me. Mostly because they didn't know what I actually did all day.
Sure, they knew basics. I worked from home. Maybe they could even tell you that I was in PR. But they didn't know what that meant on a practical level. Not that I blame them. Office jobs can be difficult (read: boring) to explain. When you're juggling a portfolio of 20 or 30 clients, every day is completely different albeit somewhat related to PR. Sometimes that's social media. Other times it's digital marketing. Graphic design. Event planning. The list goes on. But what I came to find out was that my friends don't know my skill set. Something that became crystal clear as they started to make suggestions and referrals.
This got me thinking about networks. For the sake of argument, let's say you have personal and professional. Beyond friends and family that basically leaves you with your LinkedIn network. And really, how much do those people know about your skills? Chances are you've only worked with a few. The rest have a loose affiliation to your professional life - distant colleagues, a handful of clients, former classmates, the people you've met at conferences and the ones your email account thinks you know. Super.
So if we're being general here (and we are). One network knows you as a person but has no clue how you pay for those brunch cocktails. The other thinks it knows what you can do for them and might have your business card in a drawer somewhere. How do we bridge the gap? Yes, you could incorporate your work friends into your personal network but as a remote worker, the closest thing I have to colleagues are my dogs. Not exactly going to open any doors. How do you talk to friends about work? And how do we ensure our networks...work?