Most of us would agree that over the last two years there has been an extraordinary push to network. The advent of LinkedIn and the groups within that platform have certainly provided an amazing boost to many people’s expansive networks. For some, they’ve already reached the level of being overwhelmed with “networking overload.” Yet for others, they haven’t even begun to network; they’ve heard of “networking” but haven’t ever looked at LinkedIn, let alone joined any groups.
Now it’s true that some people have employers who don’t really support the idea of their employees running off during the day (or at night) to network. They don’t see the “value” in it. Your employer may ask you, “Why would you need to network? Are you looking for a new job?” That’s a tricky question to answer, when speaking with your boss. If that is the kind of comment you are getting from your boss he or she needs a present-day education on business trends.
But I digress to the one question you need to focus on answering right now, “When is the Worst Time to Start Networking?” I give credit to David Gladstein, Founder, Coaching College Grads, for asking & answering this question at the North Shore Entrepreneurial Network (NSEN) meeting in July. The Worst Time to Start Networking is…after you LOSE your job!
I have met many people in transition since the economy weakened. I have to be honest that I cringe when I hear that they have never heard of LinkedIn. They have never been to a networking meeting. They don’t have solid business contacts with whom they regularly stay in touch. If this sounds like you or someone you know. . .
GET UP AND START DOING THESE THINGS!!! BETTER PEOPLE THAN YOU HAVE FOUND THEMSELVES UNEMPLOYED AFTER 30 PLUS YEARS AT “THE COMPANY THAT WOULD NEVER FIRE THEM”.
So Here is a list to get you started. . .
- Get on LinkedIn [If you are already on it, make sure your profile is complete and up-to-date]
- Find networking groups to join and start joining in the conversation. Start with groups that you can relate back to your experience.
- Start connecting with your professional contacts, friends, family, former classmates and in general, people who are also connected and know someone who can help get you a job when you need it.
The bottom line is that you are responsible for being prepared. When employers “let people go,” they may provide some support in the form of career counseling, etc. But the reality is that if you are just starting to build your network after you are “let go” you will have a much tougher time than the person who already has the established network. Furthermore, when potential employers start looking at resumes and move right to the question, “how do I find you on LinkedIn?” you may be out of the running for the job if you don’t even have a profile set up yet
In my opinion resumes will soon be a thing of the past, but that’s a topic for another blog.
What other advice do you have for those that are new to the whole networking scene?
Erik Hultman (a.k.a. E) is the Founder and President of ÜberBlueDM, Inc., specializing in Social Media Solutions and Social Media Staffing Solutions for individuals, businesses and brands to build their social media success. He also founded the North Shore Entrepreneurial Network (NSEN) in the Chicago Area that recently celebrated it’s three year anniversary.