The Westminster Network in Action
When two Griffins walk into a restaurant and five years later end up at the same company, it’s not luck; it’s the network
by Michelle Barber Lyhnakis (MPC ’06)
Mitch Dumke (’11) and Porter Williams (MBA ’11) didn’t know each other as students at Westminster. In fact, Mitch and Porter aren’t exactly sure how they became connected. “It could have been through LinkedIn,” Porter says. “I think Marc Weyerstall from the development office put us in contact,” Mitch adds. Either way, the two first met in 2012 over lunch.
Mitch, whose background was in consulting and photography, found himself in charge of customer support for a tech startup. Porter was leading customer support for a rapidly growing tech company. “I was put in a role I knew very little about; I needed to fill in my learning gaps from someone who was in a similar role at a much larger company,” Mitch says. Porter helped him see his blind spots and provided context for the job. Porter recalls them talking shop. “We discussed CRMs and best practices for building a customer-support team.”
After that initial conversation, Porter’s career took him to the United Kingdom, and Mitch decided to take his career in a different direction. He moved into product management, eventually landing at Pluralsight—an enterprise technology learning platform—where Mitch currently serves as vice president of product. Five years after that introductory lunch, Porter moved back to Salt Lake and was looking to make his next career move. He called Mitch. “Through the years, we had kept in touch through social media and mutual friends,” Porter says.
“When Porter reached out, it wasn’t to ask me for a job. It was to ask me about the company, the culture, and if it’s a good place to work,” Mitch says. That conversation helped Porter decide to pursue his current position: director of customer success at Pluralsight.
Both agree making connections to gather information is a good place to start building relationships. “The time to begin networking isn’t when you need a job; at that point it feels like you’re using people. It feels icky,” Porter says. “You should invest in building relationships when you’re in a good place and have something to offer.”
Networking from a place of curiosity and learning lends to a more authentic insight. “When you’re meeting someone to learn from them, there’s no posturing or trying to impress. You’ll have a much more authentic conversation, which builds a better relationship,” Mitch says. “There’s always something to learn and a place for you to grow in your role. Don’t worry about approaching someone.”
“And don’t take it personally if someone is too busy to meet with you,” Porter adds, before issuing a challenge. “You need to maintain your network too; you can’t just call when you need something. I challenge you to make five selfless recognitions in your network this week.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.