The Right Kind of Confidence

Published in CareersConnect, August 2012

By Peter Weddle

The journalist David Brooks once famously opined that "Human beings are overconfidence machines." We aren't as smart as we think we are, nor are we as smart as we need to be. That's especially true when it comes to networking in a job search.

Brooks bases his assertion on a survey done among executives in the advertising and computer industries. They were each given a quiz on their industry knowledge and then asked to rate how confident they were of their answers.

The advertising "big shots" thought they were right 90 percent of the time, when in actuality, 61 percent of their answers were wrong. The computer "hotshots" were even more off the mark—they estimated their answers to be right 95 percent of the time, when in fact, 80 percent were wrong.

Now, some may say that such overconfidence is endemic among managers and executives, but not among the rest of the workforce. Regular people are much more self-aware...or are they?

These days, an awful lot of regular people are 100-percent confident that social media is the answer to executing a successful job search. They are absolutely certain that the path to re-employment runs through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. So, what do they do? They devote countless hours to meeting virtual strangers on the Web and ignore the many connections and friends they have right in their own backyard. They rely on contacts, when relationships will serve them better.

Network With the People You Know

Networking on social media sites is important, but it is not the only or even the best way to tap the job market knowledge and connections of others. Where's the proof? Ask yourself this question: Who are you more likely to help—a friend you met through your daughter's soccer team or someone you've only met through an invitation to connect on LinkedIn?

Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you represents the epitome of human behavior. We all may aspire to this lofty standard, but in our day-to-day interactions, we are simply more comfortable investing our limited time, effort, and connections in people we actually know.

Moreover, to "know" someone means that we have done more than read what they've posted about themselves on their Facebook page. That's the real challenge of networking. "Network" is one of those rare words that actually says what it means: it's "netWORK," not "net-type-a-couple-of-invites-on-LinkedIn."

Networking is an exercise in two-way knowing. In order to get to know a person, we have to interact enough with them for them to get to know us. We have to establish a mutual sense of familiarity and trust—the twin pillars of a relationship.

And, as I point out in my book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, each of us has more relationships than we realize. A partial list includes:

All of your current friends;All of your friends with whom you have lost contact over the years;The mentor you have today and any mentors you may have had in the past;All of your former bosses;All of your current coworkers;All of your former coworkers;If you're a member of a professional, technical, or trade association or society, all of the members of that group whom you've previously met;If you've ever served on a task force, special project team, or select group of any kind (for your employer, academic institution, or association), all of those with whom you served; andAll of your former high school, trade school, college, and graduate school classmates and those in the classes ahead of and behind you whom you knew.

Network with those people. Enrich your relationships with them. You'll have plenty of reasons to be confident about the outcome of your job search.

About the Author

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE's 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet; The Career Activist Republic; Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System; and Recognizing Richard Rabbit. Get them at and today.

Copyright 2012, WEDDLE's LLC. All rights reserved.

NCMA Resources | Advertise | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Site Map | © 2012 National Contract Management Association