Networking In Prison???

April 7, 2016

Before I get started on this post, it has come to my attention that two of my recent posts went out in the same email and that most people missed the second one. It contained my first “published” poem and here is the link if you missed it and want to have a look: http://etikall.wpengine.com/spring-is-here/

Now many of you are aware that I am a big believer in networking. I’ve been building my professional network since my very first job as a sales rep at Allergan almost (eek) 35 years ago. Networking has always been easy for me mainly because I have worked with so many fantastic people over the years and many of these people remain friends of mine to this day. Over the years, I have also loved mentoring colleagues when they were interested and open to it.

Every job I have had since college has resulted from networking. My network will be more important than ever when the time comes for me to earn a living again after my sentence is over. As you might guess, having that lovely word “felon” in your background can be something of a barrier to employment. What I didn’t anticipate is that there would be an opportunity to network here. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that there are a number of extremely talented guys here who, like me, made a mistake.

So not long after I arrived here, I decided that I would make my marketing and general business talents (such as they are) available to anyone who felt they could benefit – without expecting anything in return. I did this as part of my plan to grow as an individual and did not see it as a networking opportunity – as least not consciously. As far as I know, I am the only one here with an extensive background in marketing. As a result, I have had the privilege of helping several guys with their marketing and business plans; many of which are very interesting and likely to find success. As promised, I do not accept any form of compensation for doing this.

As I have gotten to know these guys better and become more familiar with their post-incarceration plans, a handful have approached me about working together on the outside once we are all out. The proposed businesses include a “farm to table” food truck business, a unique form of probiotics and an indoor method for organic farming aimed at the consumer. I don’t know if any of this will come to fruition – or even if it will be allowed while I am no probation – but I am honoured to be asked. It keeps my marketing and business skills sharp and helps me keep my mind and heart open to new opportunities!

One of the questions I like to ask the guys here I talk to is what their plans are for when they get out. Many are not allowed to go back into the field they were in prior to their incarceration. I have been struck by the creativity and also how often the answer involves helping out another inmate or being helped by another inmate. I have really been struck by the generosity and open hearts of these guys.

Kenny said from the beginning that I would meet some really interesting people here but it never occurred to me that it could be a networking opportunity. I see this as another great thing that has come out of purposefully being open to reinvention and new ideas – even at my “advanced” age! It’s never too late, right? Thanks for listening and I hope all of you are doing what makes you happy!!

David

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