Several of my former colleagues, friends, and classmates are on the job prowl. I am always happy to help others, as many have helped me. A few however, want to join the conversation, via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Although social media has been credited with mass mobilization in recent global uprisings, professional networking doesn’t work this way. Relationships take time, developing deep relationships requires patience, and people are generally cautious—if not fearful—of Johnny come lately that is asking, rather than giving. Some people change their status message on their LinkedIn profile, saying they are now looking for jobs, and I question if it’s too late.
Let’s get something straight. The concept of networking and reaching out to others for support isn’t about changing who you are. It’s about enlisting the help and advice of others to help you become who you can be.
Here are a few suggestions you can intake, invest, and pass on:
1). Waiting until you are laid-off, bored, or simply shutting down to what else is in the market is fool hearted. It doesn’t mean you need to jump ship before 1 month, or 1 year, but it means you should be talking to recruiters, companies, and hiring managers to see what next skills are needed now, and in the future. This will actually help your current employer, as you continue to skill up, and take on new projects and clients.
2). Those who ignore the party/conversation/network when they are content and decide to drop in when they need the network may not succeed. It’s pretty easy to spot those that are just joining the network purely to take—not to give. Therefore, be part of the party/conversation/network before you need anything from anyone. Start now, and continue to build relationships by giving now: share knowledge, help others, and become a trusted node and connector, not just an outlying “dot” of a comet that swings in every 4 years or so.
3). Read Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back. These books focus on building your own personal “Relationship Rituals” and the behavioral foundation for creating lifeline relationships: Generosity, Vulnerability, Candor, Accountability.