Business Networking for Job Seekers

If you (or someone you care about) have found yourself staring at a pink slip, of course you are not alone.  Lately, it seems that you cannot turn on the news without hearing that another group of people has joined the list of the unemployed.

And, of course, if this has happened to you there are all sorts of emotional triggers and stages of grief that you are likely finding yourself dealing with.  I met with Cindy Haba yesterday with DBM (a leading global outplacement, coaching, and career management firm) and she shared with me that there is a transition curve that people are experiencing which includes the ending of their job, exploration of what the possibilities are, and then new beginnings.

Today, I want to talk about the endings segment of transition.

For some there is a hint that an ending is coming.  For others, the loss of their job hits them out of the clear blue.  Either way, these folks find themselves working through the following stages: Denial, anxiety, shock, fear, anger, frustration, confusion, and stress.  And that’s just the part about coming to terms with the situation before they can move on to exploration and new beginnings!

If you or someone you know is in this situation – or if you are feeling your job is “up in the air” right now, I want you to know it is never too late to pack your parachute!  A good, strong, supportive network of contacts can be the salve to ease your pain.

Here are some suggestions for building business networking relationships that will sustain you and help you over the tough spots that may lie ahead.

  • Get to know people up the ladder from your position in your current company (of course this works better if you still have a job)  These connections can be key if your department is downsized – perhaps your skills will come in handy in another division.  You stand a better chance of making it into that pool IF you have visibility outside of your own department, cubicle, or area of expertise.
  • Make it a point to know latteral people in your industry.  This should include people both inside and outside of your current company.  These are the folks who will keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities for you … and, of course, you’ll do the same for them.
  • Be or get active in trade or service associations.  This helps people outside of your usual work atmosphere to see you in action and to see the “stuff you are made of”  Volunteering helps to build your visibility and your trustworthiness.
  • Use Social Media sites to stay in touch with people you already know but don’t have time for face to face contact.  You want to let people know that you are interested in what matters to them, what is going on in their lives, and how you can be of service to them.  Again, this tactic keeps you visible and on the radar screen.
  • Learn to use Social Media to get answers to your questions or to be seen as an expert in your field.  Again, this tactic increases your visibility.  If you’ve got extra time on your hands right now, why not spend some of that time writing articles that showcase your expertise.  You can also strengthen your network by posting comments on blogs that are relative to your industry or area of expertise.  All of these strategies increase your Google footprint … and you know that potential employers will Google you, right?
  • Be curious about others.  Let your desire to be the focus of every conversation fall away.  Ask questions of others and let it be about them.  You’ll learn more by listening than you ever will from talking.  And people always remember a good listener.  They will be more likely to engage you in discussion at another time and they’ll be more likely to remember you when they hear of an opening or an opportunity that would be good for you.  People will care more about you when they know that you cared about them first.
  • Find ways to be innovative.  If you’ve lost your job, you are not alone.  There are hundreds if not thousands of people out there looking for new places to land.  You’ve got to find ways to stay ahead of the pack.  Tapping into your network for ideas and support can go a long way to helping you stay on top of new ideas, new opportunities, and possibilities.
  • Get focused.  What do you want the next segment of your work life to look like?  Who do you know who is already doing that?  Do some research using online tools to gather as much info as you can about what you want to do next and then start letting your network know that you are a person with a plan and lay out your roadmap so that your network can help you to navigate toward your goal or goals.
  • Get busy.  You cannot move on to the next big thing in your life if you are lying in bed with the covers pulled up over your head.  That may be comfortable.  But, it’s not helpful.  Visibility (which I’ve mentioned several times) is key to opening up more doors for you.  Get out there and be seen at events.  Be positive in your comments.  Be forward thinking and graceful in your demeanor.  BE the person that you want others to see as capable and valuable to their organization.  Essentially, you want to start dropping the bread crumbs that will become a trail leading back to you in the minds of everyone that you meet.  You want to become the possible and highly likely solution to their needs or the needs of someone that they know.
  • Most important though, is to remember to stay low on the needy scale.  Resist all temptation to wallow in your stages of denial, anxiety, anger, etc.  If you are clingy or needy in your networking strategy you will not achieve the desired outcome of positive visibility.  You want to have people appreciate being around you – so remember to keep your attitude and comments positive so that you will attract what you desire.

If you find that you are overwhelmed with the concept of building a network, please consider this – more than 75% of jobs that are filled … are filled through warm contact within a network.  You cannot afford to NOT have a far reaching network.  Consider starting today to build your network … and remember a journey starts with a single step … so break it down into steps you can take consistently and often.

Happy Connecting.

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