Let's face it--we are in a jam. And things will probably get worse before they get better. We all know someone who has lost their job or in danger of losing it. Gone are the days of secure employment. Sooner or later, that pink slip will have your name on it. You know what they say, chances go round.

Now is the time to boost your network. Cast some feelers out, see what your resume is worth in today's market. See how your skills match up with the current pool of jobseekers. But in order to do that, you have to "know folks." Like in that cell phone commercial, where your whole network follows you around.

Take a good look at the folks in your expanded circle. Not just the obvious friends and family, but others who you never think about. How about your neighbors, past colleagues, even fellow book club members? Just because you see her in sweats on Sunday afternoon doesn't mean she isn't a high powered executive during the week. If you collect business cards from everyone you come in contact with for a day, I think you'd be surprised what you would find out if you googled some of those names. They are probably good connections.
What you need to do is grow your connection with them past the polite pleasantries stage. Here's how--

BE INTERESTED. I go to many networking events, I NEVER talk shop. In fact, I rarely even talk about me at all. My aim is always to find out about the other person--where they grew up, their family life, anything that I can use later to show that I was truly listening during our conversation. If they mention that they are going to Costa Rica on an upcoming vacation, you can bet that during my next conversation or email with them, I will ask about the trip. Think of others in your network that THEY should know, bringing value to the relationship right from the start, and establishing YOU as someone THEY should keep in contact with. Here's an example--"Wow Danny, it must be fun to manage a South Beach nightclub. I have a client whose bringing a new brand of organic spirits to the US. You guys should probably get together."

APPEAL TO THEIR EGOS. Ask them for help--say something like, "Yanno, things are getting tight at my job and I don't know what the future holds for me there. You are someone that I trust--could i buy you a coffee on Thursday night and have you critique my resume. I'd like to be able to hit the ground running, if the axe should fall." Who wouldn't accept that offer? Heck, I don't even drink coffee and I'd do it. Value EVERY connection, no matter what their job title is--you'd be surprised how much clout a receptionist has.

FOLLOW UP! This is the most important. If you do everything else right, and never follow up, you won't get anywhere. I follow up with folks I have coincidental encounters with (like sitting next to them at a luncheon), as soon as I get back to the office. Since I probably didn't tell them what line of work I'm in, I shoot off a quick email just saying that I was glad to meet them and here's what I do and if I can be of help to them, let me know. I also give them contact info for whoever I promised to introduce them to (after securing that person's permission). I also connect with them on linkedin.com and/or twitter.com. Even after that, I don't forget them. If I run across an article that might be of interest to them, I email it. If more connections come to mind, I send them. My goal is always to be on the "owed" end of the favor seesaw.

Boost your network. In the job market, it's not always what you know, but who you know. Who do you know?

Your comments--priceless!

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3 Responses
  1. Silk! Says:

    Ah, my first comment!

    VERY good advice! When you remember, you will be remembered.

  2. Jewel, you are on point! Networking opens so many avenues for personal and professional growth, and you never know what it may lead to in the future.

  3. Marc Lowery Says:

    I enjoyed the blog! People need to go out, meet people, and maintain contacts. It is professional and people appreciate it when you listen to what they say and then retain it, and referenceit when speaking with them again. You don't have to "suck up" to people, just because you may find yourself in a situation without employment, but maintain healthy, cordial relationships with people, because you want to keep "good people" in your life! Excellent points Jewel.

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