RezScore

 

Guest Post: Thoughts On Basements and Networks

“Those who fail to plan…should plan to fail.” - unattributed, many sources

“I am never doing that again…and this time, I really mean it!” - me, the day after every St Patrick’s day

I recently bought a new house.  A side effect of that, naturally, is that all of the stuff that’s been accumulated over the years now has to also be dealt with in regards to the new home.  The walls of books.  The cabinets full of DVDs.  Posters on the walls.  TVs, Tivos, gaming systems and all of the cabling and wiring that goes along with them…oh my god…seriously, it has to be miles of wiring and cabling.  Two separate wireless networks.  Routers here and there.  Repeaters sprinkled around to improve signal strength.  Cables running down cold air returns to fix that one spot that wireless just couldn’t hang…

…hmmm.  It seems that my network has gotten to be a little out of control because I didn’t plan properly.  Wonder if there’s a metaphor there…

With the new house…thankfully it was new construction.  I got to sit down with blueprints and lay out exactly where I wanted my network drops to be, how I wanted things to work, where I wanted phone, cable and internet lines run throughout the house…even to locations that I’m not quite sure I need them to be yet.  Sure, that’s just a storage area now…but in the future, maybe it becomes a second playroom or a crafts room that the kids or my wife might be spending a good deal of time in and so a TV or computer might make it’s way there.

In my mind, the basement’s already finished.  I know exactly where the flat screen will go so that it’s perfect to watch the Wings or other events next year as people gather around the classic pub style padded leather and brass-rail bar.  Friends will be able to watch the game not just sitting at the bar, but also on the flat screen mounted on the wall near (but not too close to…) the pool table, while others are sitting on the comfy couches laughing while they’re waiting their turn to jam out with Rock Band on the big screen over to the right.  In my wife’s salon (yes, I married a hairdresser…so you can feel free to point out when my hair looks stupid and I’ll pass it along), she and her clients and friends can debate the finer points of highlights, lowlights and color choices while watching HGTV and figuring out the next check I’ll have to write for yet another home improvement project.

But the basement’s not finished yet.  It’s just a big, open area with tons of insulation and waiting to be worked on.  And that storage room is still just a storage room, full of boxes that we haven’t gotten around to unpacking just yet.

But it’s there.  And by “it”, I mean “the network”.  When the time comes that I’m ready to move into those projects…building the bar, getting the walls put up for the salon area, getting the tv installed by the pool table…the network is there.  It’s something that will be there, and that I can rely on.  The cables are there for the televisions.  The drops are there for network connections for the gaming systems and other toys to make use of.  I’ve tested all of the connections, and so I know that they’ll work to do what I need them to do when I need them to be there for me.

But it took planning.  I sat down with those blueprints almost four months ago and laid out where I wanted to be right now.  Without that advance planning…I’d be no better off than I was in the old house.  A house built in the 80′s – a time before cable or satellite TV, let alone CAT-5 cables being run in walls and wireless routers available at Best Buy…or even Best Buy itself, for that matter.  I’d still be forced to scramble and struggle with trying to make things work as best as I could.  In the seven years we lived in the old house, I had grand plans of fixing the oversights of the past and making it more valuable to me…but it just never happened.

So what have I learned through this experience?

  • You have to build your network before you need it.  Job seekers, coming to our events the day after you’ve lost your job is too late.  Recruiters, coming to our events the day you need to hire someone is too late.  Sure, you might get lucky and find the right fit that first trip…just like I might have gotten lucky and found a fully wired house I could just move into.  But how long would I have had to keep looking for that “perfect” fit?  How long are you willing to sit without a job when the time comes that you no longer have one?
  • Let your network lead the way. Get your network to places you want to go well ahead of wanting to get there.  Finishing my basement is probably three to six months away from being tackled…and you should be thinking about that next job three to six months before you tackle that, too.
  • Forget “perfect” and run with “good enough”. No plan is perfect, and trying to get there will drive you insane.  We’ve been in the new house less than a week, and I’ve already figured out two different spots where I should’ve had things dropped and/or wired differently.  Oh well.  The basics are still in place though, and so it’s not like I have to rip out a wall to get things where I want them – I can make minor adjustments, and my network will be where I want it to be.
  • Starting is the hardest part. I won’t lie – sitting there looking at the blueprints the first time was a tad overwhelming.  Where to start?  Which room?  Where will the router go?  What if I screw things up?  Seriously, stop it.  Once I dove in (I picked one room, figured out what I wanted in that room and the rest came naturally and built from there) it was not only easy…but it was fun.  And folks, networking is fun.  So help me, if you can’t manage to relax and unwind a bit at one of our events no matter how desperate your need or how dire your circumstances may be…then there’s more wrong than we can help.  It’s a great group of folks that we’ve managed to pull together over the years, and the ones that suck are promptly ostracized…so relax.  Dive in.  Find the first person – and as always, just start with Bob, Jeff or me if you want – and dive in.  Say “hi”.  We will help you.  Others there will help you.  Honest.
  • Your network is your lifeblood. I’m a geek.  Without a network in the house, my toys don’t work and I throw my crayons on the ground, stomp my feet and go nuts.  But with my network solidly in place…I can rest easy knowing that things are flowing smoothly and working like I want them to work.  The same is true with the network I’ve built from these events.  There are a number of these people that I’d trust to find me a job when I absolutely need one, and ones that I trust with my friends when they’re in need of jobs, advice, or just someone to chat with.  Your professional network needs to do the same things for you…and if it doesn’t…then you need to get serious about improving it immediately.

Granted, that’s a lot of things I already knew, but it’s always good to have it smack me in the forehead so that I remember that these lessons apply to more than just one facet of life.  Look forward to seeing you at our events.  Come on in, the beer…uhh, “water”…is fine.

-          David Phillips is one of the founders of Detroitnet.org, a non-profit organization in the metro Detroit, Michigan area focused on the Information Technology industry.  Their monthly networking events have helped more than 200 people find new jobs, and take place throughout the metro Detroit area.

Comments are closed.