How To Protect Your Most Valuable Professional Asset

When we are young, we are passionate, we are energetic and we want to change the world. We want to fix all the problems the world has. Don't we? Well, at least that's how I was growing up :).

The reality however is quite different. We graduate, we find job, we love our first job, we usually like our first boss. Then we move higher and slowly start hating our job, not happy with our sub-ordinates and complain about our salary. Well, at least that's how most people are. As a matter of fact, 70% of US employees hate their jobs.

You will be surprised that you may not hate your job at all. You may just be bored at work. If you have not already, I highly recommend you read my article Are You Bored At Work. Why?

So what is the solution? The solution is to find the work you love. Find people you like to hang out with and have fun with. Find the work that gives you more than just salary and security.

So how do you find the job you love? How do you work with the people you want to hang out with?

Today, I will provide you a Gudh (secret) mantra that is hidden in my previous sentence colored in green and red.

Recognizing Your Most Valuable Asset

Let me ask you a question. As a professional, what is your biggest asset?

Your education? Your experience? Your company? Your management or coding skills?

Wrong.

If you ask me, the most valuable asset of a professional is his/her professional relationships, the strength of his/her network. The bigger and stronger the network, the more successful you are in your professional life. The relationship I am talking about is the relationship you have with your bosses, your mentors, your co-workers and your sub-ordinates.

"Your professional relationship is the most valuable asset."

If you're a young professional, you may not realize it but when you will look back 15 years from now, you will not find for your education or your experience, or your skills anywhere but you will see faces of these key people who had influenced and impacted your life. That's what it all matters.

I've been in the IT industry for the last 17 years and today, no one asks me my education or my experience. Trust me. No one. All it matters is, who I know and who I hang out with.

Again, I go back to C# Corner Annual Conference 2014 where I talked about networking. C# Corner Chapters are all about networking. The C# Corner community is all about networking and building relationships. You will be surprised how many C# Corner members I have helped to get jobs.

Be Professional. Nothing Personal.

Be Professional Nothing Personal

A professional relationship is a bridge that helps us pass one side to another in our career. You may not need a bridge each day but when you're in trouble that is where you will need the relationship.

Recently, one of my old co-workers who I have not spoken with in years called me up. He got laid off and he could not find a job for 4 months. He asked me if I know anybody. I passed his resumes to couple of my friends and within a week, he had a job.
 
"It takes years to build good relationships. It takes a second to destroy it."

I've seen many examples in my life where one guy hired me a long time ago and later I ended up hiring the same guy on my other job. This happens all the time. The lesson we should learn here is, keep building bridges and don't burn them. I know I know. You may ask, what if my boss is an a$$hole? It simply means that the two of you do not get along. Sometimes we don't even get together with our own brother. It doesn't mean you will stop talking to him. Just don't burn a bridge. Make it Professional. Don't take it personally.
 
Professional Life Examples

Let's get some facts on the table:
  1. The current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer worked at Google for 13 years before joining Yahoo.
  2. Dima Korolev worked with Google, Microsoft and Facebook and talks about the experience he has with all these three companies. In his interview, he talks about the pluses and minuses of working with these companies. He said, working with Facebook still seems working with a startup while Microsoft cares a lot and Google is good for guys who are starting their career.
  3. Our own C# creator, Andres Hejlsberg worked with Nascom and designed the Pascal compiler that later became Turbo Pascal. Andres was working with PolyData, a company close to Microsoft in Denmark and then joined Borland and lead Borland to build one of the best products of its time, Borland Delphi. In 1996, Heljsberg left Borland and joined Microsoft where he developed the C# language.
  4. Once upon a time, when I was young, I interviewed for a job and I didn't take the job. As a matter of fact, I didn't like the company and the platform and I told the person who interviewed me. We may also have some heated arguments. 6-months later, I went to interview at another company and guess who was there? The same person. The person was professional enough and ignored my misbehavior but I was embarrassed.
The lesson we learn from the preceding examples is that, professionals don't think if a company, boss, or co-worker is their friend or enemy. They go where the opportunity takes them.

Now, you may ask, what about loyalty? I did not say that don't be loyal to your employer or your boss. But it doesn't mean that if you are getting a better opportunity, you should not accept it.

The Essence

Growing up in a small village in an unprofessional environment, I didn't get much professional guidance or advice and I learned it the hard way. I do not want you to make the same mistakes. Smart people learn from others' mistakes. I hope you learn something from my mistakes.
 
"Professional relationships are very fragile..."
 
Professional relationships are very fragile compared to a family and friendship. We must be cautious before taking any hasty steps in our verdicts. 
 
So my gudh mantra is, you may hate or love your job, but make sure you have a professional relationship with your boss, co-workers and sub-ordinates. You never know you may be working with them again. If you don't like the job or them, just change the job to minimize the risk.