You’ll never know how much you need to continually network until your career depends on it!
I see you. Hiding in your office, keeping your head down, thinking that everything will be just fine if you just work harder. Social media confined to the occasional Facebook or Instagram pics of you and your buddies on the weekend. No time for professional meetings. No time for coffee or to take that odd phone call from friends who need a favor. We are working hard!
Everything is fine until it isn’t. Until that day the boss walks into your office with the HR Director to drop that bomb that your job has just been eliminated. You could accept a position like the one you held ten years ago or receive a separation package behind door number two.
You are on your own for the first time in years.
Now what? Where does all that “head down, hard work” get you now?
Sound familiar? Many corporate colleagues are out there working hard… until they are not.
Networking works best BEFORE you need it.
A friend, we will call him Julio, just turned down a sweet promotion from his company to relocate to the East Coast. Ordinarily Julio would consider this option very seriously and probably take it. But his wife just gave birth to a new son two weeks ago. They are not going anywhere for a while.
No problem. Except it is a problem. The Big Boss said it was a poor career move to turn this job down. She couldn’t guarantee his job security if he turned it down. Julio got the message loud and clear. Turn down the job and risk termination sometime in the future.
Julio has a secret weapon. He never stops networking. He has over 1200 LinkedIn connections. He talks to his contacts regularly and makes a habit of scheduling lunch with influential people. He realizes that he must start his job search NOW before something bad happens. With his network solidly in place, Julio can bump up attendance at professional meetings and polish up his resume and ZAPPO he has a job search.
Here are some tips to network like Julio, before you need it:
- Have an up to date resume at all times.
- Know what you want and what accomplishments from your past support your claims about the job you want.
- Get your LinkedIn profile up to date and to All Star level. That means at least 500 connections for everyone. Comment and “like” postings. Make contributions so people will know who you are.
- Attend professional or industry association meetings to meet people in your profession or industry who can help you now. You don’t have to be blatant about it. No neon sign that says, “I’m looking for a job”. But be open to opportunities that might come up at those meetings.
- Answer the phone when people call you to network. Take that coffee meeting. By helping others you raise your visibility and build relationships that can serve you well when you decide to leave (or someone decides for you!)
None of these tips will take much time. Maybe an hour a week devoted to you. Think of it like career exercise.
Networking is about building relationships. Make networking a steady part of your work habits. It will serve you better than keeping your head down and working hard.