Recently, I’ve come across a number of job seekers who have been unemployed for three months, six months, a year, or more. Frankly, I don’t know how they do it — especially when you consider the fact that the majority of Americans cannot wrangle up $2,000 within 60 days. How long could you live if you lost your job tomorrow? I’m not asking that to scare you, but rather to get you thinking about how important it is to have a plan B, no matter what. A recent client had been with a company 27 years and was unceremoniously let go this year. Not only was that a huge hit to her ego and self-identity, but it also left her scrambling to figure out “What’s next?”
The Power of Your Network
What if you never had to look for a job again? What if you were able to secure solid opportunities with just a couple of phone calls or emails? Statistically, we all have about 200 people in our first-level contact sphere. If you multiply that by the contacts your inner circle knows, and then their contacts … well, that’s the premise behind LinkedIn — and why that social network works so well. Unfortunately, most of us don’t nurture that network, so when we need to call on it, the power is diminished. That’s why you need to work on creating a far-reaching, diverse network NOW.
Remember that your friends and family know just as many people as you do, so they are an excellent place to start. Tell them whom you’d like to meet and ask for an introduction. Put a note out on Facebook asking for connections. Since your friends and relations already know and love you, you’re more likely to get your requests answered from them than from a cold call anyway. Connect with these folks on LinkedIn and ask them for recommendations and endorsements. Go with a friend to his or her holiday party and meet the coworkers.
I just can’t stress this component enough: you MUST follow up with the people you meet. You’re just wasting everyone’s time if you go out and meet a bunch of new people and don’t bother to nurture that relationship. Put it on your schedule to send a card, make a call, or write a quick email on a regular basis. Ask the people you meet how you can help them. It’s the law of reciprocity, and it works brilliantly! If you help others, they’re much more likely to want to help you in return. You’re building your bank now, so that when you need to draw on it, you’ll have some collateral.
When the Time Is Right, Ask for Help
You’ve built up your network so that you can help each other, and they’re ready to help you achieve your goals (especially if you’ve already helped them). If you have lost your job or fear that you will, reach out to this network of people and ask them for introductions and ideas. Of course, when you do ask, you must be specific. Just asking for help in finding a new job won’t be nearly as effective as asking for help finding a warehouse supervisor position at PetSmart or Safeway. Give your network parameters so they know what they’re looking for. If you create your network now, and continue to build and nurture it, if and when that time comes that you need a new job, it will only take a few calls to open doors. Yes, it’s work, but the payoff is priceless.