The value of networking and relationships

From the pages of In Business magazine.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: Be kind to people on the way up because they are the same people you meet on the way down. Terry Murawski followed that advice, and that enabled him to bounce back from an unexpected turn of events. Last summer, he lost his job as executive director of the National W Club after the organization lost, via competitive bid, the food and beverage concession contract for UW athletic events. The contract represented 80% of the club’s annual revenue, so it was a devastating development that compelled Murawski to resign.

It was time to start over, but he had not given much thought to a career change, and he had not updated his résumé in decades. He was admittedly naïve about the job search process, circa 2014. “I was literally starting from ground zero,” he says.

Well, not entirely. Having been head of the National W Club, Murawski had cultivated relationships with scores of UW alumni. When they heard about what happened, UW sports legends like Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, who had just had her résumé updated by a professional in Atlanta, reached out to help him. 

Murawski patiently crafted his own résumé, but he also leaned on a LinkedIn network of 300-plus, using the business-networking tool to spread the word about his professional transition. Having many acquaintances, in part because of the social interaction at National W Club events, he visited with old friends and colleagues. While he never interacted with a job search in mind, those relationships proved to be valuable in a “been there” sense. 

“As I networked, it was incredible how many people had found themselves in a similar situation,” Murawski noted. 

Ironically, the lead for his eventual employer, the New York-based Guardian Insurance Company of America (not to be confused with Madison’s National Guardian Life), did not come from a Wisconsin alum. It came from Jim Hartlieb, the former Iowa quarterback who is now part of the executive team at First Business Bank. Murawski was never happier to encounter a Hawkeye. His new job, selling life, disability, and long-term health insurance products, requires some of the same interactive skills he honed with the National W Club. 

Given his experience of the past few months, one lesson hits home. “Treat people well every day,” he advised, “because what goes around, comes around.” 

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