How do you get out and network when you have a physical injury?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Networking
Well, there’s no easy way to hide an injury – unless you do all of your networking over the phone.
Diane, one of our Executives Network members, recently had a spinal cord injury from a horseback riding accident. Fortunately, she’ll be okay, but it’s been a setback in the job search. She’s in a brace and feels like that will be a huge red flag for any prospective employer. She asked what I would do, and here’s what I told her.
I’d tell them before coming in. Warn them that you’ll be in a brace. Of course, this is after you secure the meeting or interview. Let them know it doesn’t look that great, but you’re completely functional. And tell them why you’re in a brace. Never leave it up to other people’s imaginations. As much as you’re uncomfortable telling the story, just tell it.
I had a black eye for a while – took a spill off a bike. Actually, it looked more like I got into a fight with the pavement, and the pavement won!! That week, I was scheduled to fly to San Francisco for three different networking events – with an opportunity to meet at least 60 new people. And despite the fact that, with my eye almost swollen shut, I could’ve passed for The Elephant Man’s sister, I went anyway.
Those I was scheduled to meet with, I called or emailed them to let them know, “Hey, by the way, when I see you, I’m going to have this huge black eye. Believe me, it’s not pretty. But I fell off my bike.”
And at the networking events, I’d try to sit on the end – so everybody to the right of me had visibility of my good eye. When I’d talk to people, I’d say “Hmmm, as though you didn’t notice, I have a HUGE black eye…fell off my bike.” I felt the need to explain it. Truth is, people want you to explain it. It turned out to be a nice topic of conversation. I was surprised to hear how many others had bicycle accidents! And follow up was pretty easy too, because people remembered me… I was the person with the black eye.
If you have any kind of physical issue, don’t let it stop you from getting out and networking. Just tell people right away… so they don’t wonder.
An injury shouldn’t be a hindrance! Pretty much everybody has had an injury of some kind. While you’re networking, use it as an opportunity to jumpstart the conversation. Maybe it will create a more intimate conversation and connection. And take advantage of the fact that it will make you stand out from the crowd!