Building Connections and Asking for Help

By Judy Liu '96BC, '98PH of the Columbia Career Coaches Network
This article originally appeared on Strenua.

The most basic relationship is a transactional relationship. A transactional relationship involves barter or trade. It is often limited in scope and does not create any long-term benefits. When pursuing a successful career in an ever-challenging world, we need to remind ourselves that our success depends on transformative relationships.

Transformative relationships are relationships that truly support your endeavors. These relationships involve individuals that are looking out for your professional best interests and will be your advocate. Conversely, you would want to offer the same for these individuals.

So how do we cultivate transformative relationships? First, we need to make sure the individual is interested in supporting your career in such tangible ways. So, be explicit in your request. State your one-year and five-year goals and ask him/her how he can support you. If the individual does not offer concrete ways to support you, don't take it personally. Instead, continue to reach out to others. Also, remember to do the same for those who proactively reach out to you for support. The most successful transformative relationships are usually with your peer group (this includes individuals who were colleagues in your previous role, college or graduate school friends, and current colleagues).  

The averaged unemployed professional usually takes six months before they announce their unemployment status to their family and friends. This is probably due to embarrassment, denial, or faith that he/she will be able to land another role before their unemployment benefits expire. The best time to ask for help is immediately! Do not wait to announce your employment or career goals! If you notice a company-wide or departmental-wide layoff, don't stay in your role just because it was spared this round of layoffs. Proactively reach out to your network and ask for potential opportunities.

Take advantage of employment placement services if offered to you as part of your severance package. In most cases, employment placement services will land you a job faster than if you search for one on your own. The service will also allow you to connect with other recently unemployed individuals. Instead of avoiding such potential connections, proactively reach out and befriend these individuals. When one of them lands a job, you will be surprised to find they will not hesitate to recommend you for an available role, due to your friendship. Be genuine and honest with your struggles. These professional relationships often blossom to lifelong friendships.

Seek advice from a career coach as you begin to explore other industries. Their objective viewpoint will help you determine whether you have the transferable skills that will enable you to break into another industry.


Judy Liu, MPH, has more than 18 years of professional marketing, consulting, and coaching experience. She was previously a senior executive at GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, Inc. Liu is currently an adjunct professor at the Florida Institute of Technology where she develops new courses and teaches online undergraduate courses, and previously was an adjunct professor at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health.

In addition to teaching and coaching more than 500 students to date, she has served as a lecturer and guest speaker at numerous professional association events (Healthcare Businesswoman Association, Women in Bio and Women in Health Management New York). She has served as a board member for Central Brevard Art Association and Women in Health Management New York.


Learn more about the Columbia Career Coaches Network.

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