In Chapter 12 of 15 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, entrepreneur Audrey Parker French answers "How Do You Use Your Network to Get Help Making Career and Life Decisions?" She shares how her network provides her additional information she does not have personally. She notes the importance of discerning matching requests to expertise in her outreach. She notes how this allows her network to shift and evolve over time. Audrey Parker French returns to CYF for her Year 3 interview after a one-year sabbatical from work and getting married. She co-founded CLEAResult, an energy management consulting firm. In 2010, CLEAResult ranked #144 in the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies. In late 2010, CLEAResult was sold to General Catalyst Partners. She graduated from Wake Forest University.
Erik Michielsen: How do you use your network to get help making career and life decisions?
Audrey Parker: Well, I use my network as a sounding board. I think about something. I do my best to work it out or to piece something together. And then what a network does is it provides additional information that I can’t get to in my own head. So if and when I need advice or I’m looking for advice about a decision in my life, I think, “Okay, who in my network can help me with this decision? Who’s gonna be a good person to call?” And in the past, I learned the hard way that I need to be careful with who I ask for feedback in a net—I mean we all need to be careful, you know, if we ask someone who has an expertise in dentistry for help with you know, what shoes to buy, that’s probably a mismatch. But if you go to someone who has an expertise in home design and you really want someone to help you design your lifestyle and your home, that’s gonna be a better fit.
So really the way that my network helps me is that depending on the advice or the guidance that I need, I pick out the people who are going to help me get there and what’s interesting is it helps my network shift as I ask those questions. So I’ve met – over the last year, I’ve met a lot of new people because I went to my network to certain people that I knew and I said, “Hey, I’m looking at this.” Or, “I’m curious about that.” And the people that I automatically have gotten connected to through those circles take me further down the road where I’m wanting to head anyway.
So there is, I believe, a certain kind of a magic that can happen with a network. People introducing you to the right people who have the right opportunity that you didn’t even quite realize you were looking for and that actually is the way that I met my husband. I have to thank my network on that one. A friend of mine invited me out and I met someone who knew my husband and the next time I went out with, you know, the same kind of people, he was there, and we met, so, you know, I didn’t realize that I was even looking for, I mean I knew on some level but I hadn’t gone to that friend for that reason, but networks can definitely bring you what you’re looking for in ways that you – we just can’t see.