Wake up call! Time to build a support network!

You, in that cubicle! You at that desk!
And you, in that hotel room far from home!

You have been working flat out to get the company through the quarter and now you are looking forward to a long weekend. You deserve it.

Your job will be safe if you have worked hard and made the right decisions, but what have you done to make your career more stable?

If you are like most of your co-workers, you have been working long hours in an increasingly unstable work environment and you are worried about your finances, your future, and your relationship with your manager.

The one thing you haven’t done is to do any effective networking!

If you are like most professionals, you don’t have time to meet people outside of your company and you have almost lost track of the people you used to work with. If the company decides to downsize or to outsource, you will be on your own with no help in sight.

In today’s employment market, major changes in demand occur unpredictably. Six months ago, you were eagerly recruited. Next week there may be thousands like you on the street at the same time. You are not going to change the corporate business model, but you can ensure that you are well-connected to trusted friends no matter what happens at work.

Without a support network, you are like chaff in the wind, completely dependent on your company’s management skills. That’s a scary thought. You need to do something to protect yourself against adversity.

You survive best when you have an extensive network of trusted friends with whom you share information and and access to resources.

If you are confined to your cubicle most of the time, you need a secure online tool that helps you connect with friends and lets them introduce you to people you need to meet. There are several of these, but the one that really works for me is LinkedIn.

You can join LinkedIn on your own or be invited by a friend. People in LinkedIn have total control over their privacy and have total control over how they will connect to new people. In general, you can search for people by name of by company, but you cannot connect them directly. You must send your request to communicate with them through a network of connected friends. This is done very quickly and automatically, but the process of handling introductions is comfortable and professional.

For example, if I wanted to join a hot new startup, I would search LinkedIn using the name of the company to see if any executives were members. If I found the right people, but didn’t know any of them, I would look on my search results page to see which of my personal connections could introduce me to them. The system automatically displays my options to connect to someone through four degrees of separation.

The system provides an automated way for me to write a message to the target person and accompany that with a request for someone to introduce me. The whole idea is to create a means to build and establish trust one link at a time. The process is amazingly fast.

Let’s say that you upload the email addresses of twenty friends you trust, LinkedIn will immediately tell you which of them are already in the system. All you have to do is initiate requests to link up and within a day you may be connected through them to tens of thousands of people you might need to know.

You are still sitting in your cubicle with a spreadsheet that is making your head hurt, but your network of potential friends is expanding at great speed. You realize the power you have tapped when you get an email from an old acquaintance inviting you to connect with her or him.

With a week of work, you can build a network of friends and you will be helping each other to find information, find jobs, and even find investors. You can build the kind of close ties that give you peace of mind and ease you through the next corporate crisis.

LinkedIn a superb tool for networking. Do yourself a favor and investigate it. If you find it useful, feel free to look me up. Maybe we can help each other out!

Update: Des Walsh and Joe Bartling have more to add.

This entry was posted in Basic Business Concepts, post-corporate, Working For Others. Bookmark the permalink.

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