I remember a 21-year-old CCIE telling me this. “Network Engineers don’t wear suits!” He had come out of a boot camp and had the world at his feet. The CCIE is the most sort after certification by business. It stands for Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert.
Although, instead of configuring routers and logging onto devices all across the world he was in customer meetings. Gathering requirements and trying to design networks that would allow better productivity and lower costs. His technical knowledge was in his head, but see they only looking at his face, his suit.
This is not what I was prepared for when I entered the world of networking as well. All I cared about was not having enough technical knowledge! I didn’t know the ins and outs of a 6500 switch or configuring MPLS! But I can speak to people. I can relate to people, I’m a people person!
Or so I thought…..
I had a bad experience once….
It put me off the suit….
It was a meeting where I wasn’t prepared and the good news I was giving the customer that nothing needed to be done, I thought it meant I really had not been doing anything the whole time I was there. I should have realised it was good news and put that spin on it. The meeting started, and my mouth opened. A few words came out something something ‘nothing is needed in your network’. Then….
I took a breath and closed my mouth. It wouldn’t open back up. I froze. How could I freeze? I was a new engineer worried about BGP , routing tables and not knowing enough technical information!,
I can talk to people. I can relate!
I got it wrong.
People skills are probably the most important part of a network engineers job.
That experience put me off for sometime. A long time actually. It wasn’t until I read the book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ when I started to learn the best way to deal with people. The book Who moved my cheese also made a big difference. Those books transformed my outlook and my life.
9 years has passed since I met that 21-year-old CCIE and 8 years have passed since that meeting.
The chapter I should have started 8 years ago starts today.
I should have worn the suit first.