Once more with feeling – Start networking NOW

I have been writing about the vital importance of networking for many months, but I don’t think the message has reached enough of your friends. See my earlier post on networking.

I am sure that many of you have a strong network of twenty friends and associates, but there are too many of your friends who just can’t seem to get started. Networking is a skill that can be learned by almost anyone, but it is best done while you are still employed.

Rather than bore you with another exhortation to network or suffer the consequences, I would like to share the experience of someone who followed my advice, but couldn’t complete preparations in time.

Developing relationships takes time

Kim B is an IT professional who recently found himself jobless through corporate outsourcing. He had these points to make:

David, A few months ago I posted a comment on your site that said that I felt like I was standing on a trap door and when management pulled the lever I would be in a free-fall. You advised me to make my exit strategy. Well, I tried but didn’t make it out in time. They pulled the lever. The company is outsourcing its entire IT department to IBM. Eighty percent of us will lose our jobs. I’m not bitter—just kicking myself for not getting out sooner.

…It is easy to get lulled into complacency when you are well-paid and the everyday demands of your job take most of your time and energy.

…This will be my second layoff. This time around is different for me. The first time I was in my 20’s and now I am 51. What an awkward age—too young to retire and too old to be a techie. Of course I never should have let myself get lulled into this situation in the first place, but no use kicking myself now.

…It is interesting to see how LinkedIn has spread like wildfire here at my company as everyone is scrambling for jobs and trying to form instant relationshps.  I had a hard time getting people interested in it before. Unfortunately, relationships take time to develop.

As I look around at those who easily found work, I clearly see it was those who had strong relationships with vendors and peers in other companies. I was working on this for the past six months—at least I have a start. But that is a lesson I will not forget. Relationships and visibility are key.

Kim tells what happens when you finally create a strong network of people you trust

I made a conscious effort to start forming relationships, starting online. I joined a few networking sites and settled on LinkedIn. I sent emails to people whose blogs I enjoyed. I started talking with vendors I deal with. I met people for coffee and lunch. There are many ways to get started. In six months I have formed a series of relationships, some in other countries.

I have made my move out of here. Decided to go into IT contracting for a while. I’m starting out managing a small project. An old friend and former manager hired me for the position–otherwise it would have been tough to get in. In addition, a co-worker of mine was recommened for a job by a vendor he had formed a relationship with. Another co-worker landed a job through an old co-worker of his.

Kim and two friends landed safely after the company jettisoned their department because they had formed relationships that found them new jobs. When you are out of work, your best chance of finding new work is through your network of friends.

If you don’t have a strong network of friends, start now and take time to develop meaningful relationships. This not something that you can rush. A network is composed of people who help each other. The best way to start networking is to meet people, get in good communication with them, find out what you can do for them, and then do it.

If you have questions on how this is done, let me know and I will write another post that goes into more detail.

Good luck. Please start networking today and make it a regular part of your life.

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0 Responses to Once more with feeling – Start networking NOW

  1. Carrie says:

    This is an excellent post. Very helpful.

    When I’m ready I am going to take all of your advice. Thanks for spending time on this subject. I would be interested in reading more about it.

  2. Stephan F says:

    I keep hearing that networking is such a great thing, but I am so bad at it, I’m pathetic.

    I moved for a job, something I would never recommend for anyone now and got fired. So here we are in a new city knowing basically no one.

    I call on some of my old friends, networking, and found one was now a beekeeper, another a graphic artist, another “retired”, a few “independent contractors” and one had died.

    One local networking group was just a pity party and another was a “Network, network, network” monkey boy dance.

    I’m an engineer and one of the big lessons of school was group work was cheating, except in a few token assignments where you were supposed to work as a group, but really ended up being 3 guys doing separate work and bringing it together at the end.

    I feel as though I have nothing now and need to build up something. I need some tips that will help bootstrap me. Are there places to go to meet people that are useful?

  3. I have been there too and have experienced the same sense of loss when my old friends were less connected than I was.

    You are on the right track when you recognize you need to build up something new.

    On a local level, find someone you can help and really help them. that kind of outflow will start things moving more quickly than you expect.

    On a larger scale, join LinkedIn and search for people in your address books. You may be surprised how many of your old coworkers are on LinkedIn.

    I address this exact situation in my recent book. Buy it and read it. If you have no money, then download it. See bentcrowpress.com for details.

    You will get through this, and effective networking is part of the solution.

  4. Ric says:

    Agree with you Paul – as a recovering geek myself. That’s why LinkedIn is a good first step for me – it’s a bit geeky, and slightly removed from the ‘in person’ that still scares us a bit. I endorse David’s comments aboce about first doing things for someone – it’s a better accelerant for networking than asking people what they can do for you.

  5. E2E says:

    That is a massive book, it’ll take me a little bit to read it all.
    I’ll also give LinkedIn a try too.
    Thanks for the encouragement. I needed that.

  6. As always, a very insightful post David. Harvey Mackay wrote about “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” Keith Ferrazzi’s recently wrote “Never Eat Alone” and so many others. LinkedIn is a great resource, to be sure. I would also recommend using Plaxo (free at http://www.plaxo.com) to link up your contacts no matter where you go, and to automatically send people your new address/position/website. My last point is one about fear: don’t have any! Put yourself out there and ask for help to whomever is in your network, or whomever you want to be in your network. People genuinely want to help you far more than you think, but you’ll never know unless you ask for it!

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