Networking on the Job
Are you among the 132 million* USA adults holding down a full time job? Or perhaps you are in the mix of 27 million* with part time jobs? Or maybe you are self-employed? Whatever the situation, congratulations you have a job and an income stream. But this is not the time to get cozy and feel secure. You need some insurance to protect your career and your financial future. I’m not talking about life insurance. I’m talking about professional networking.
Network while you still have a job. It behooves you to start networking now, while you are gainfully employed. Don’t wait until you are laid off, fired, or otherwise released from your salaried job duties to begin active networking. Networking is a strategy for life. It will serve you your entire working life and help to sustain you in any economic cycle. There are three reasons why I believe this to be true.
Reason #1: Networking, referrals and connections are still the way that the majority of people get jobs these days.
“Studies have shown that more than 60 percent of jobs are filled through referrals. Employers fast-track job candidates who are recommended by current employees; statistically speaking, employee-referred hires prove to be better hires, have longer job tenures and therefore represent a far sounder investment on the part of employers,” said Thomas Boyle, director of product strategy for SilkRoad in an on-line article posted on ResumeBear.com.
Reason #2: You’re in the best position to help others in networking when you have a job.
When you are employed, you are in an environment that is rich in resources: including people, information and opportunity. You have established relationships on the job with your peers, bosses, direct reports, vendors, clients, customers. You are earning their trust and friendship as you strive to do your job to the best of your ability and with full integrity. You have built equity in these relationships that you can tap into to help other people in your network. You can create even more equity and positive karma when you are willing to network with people who are in need of something. And aren’t we all?
Reason #3: Networking is a career management best practice.
Networking is a critical component of good career management. It is something that you do throughout your work life, when you are working and when you are not. If it helps you to do it, think of it as “network or not work.” By having a robust professional network developed, you will be able to weave and bob and change jobs, career paths and start entrepreneurial ventures more easily. Your supporters will be behind you. They will be connected with you. They will know what your dreams and goals are. They will help you solve your career challenges.
What can you do to continue a healthy practice of networking?
Here are three practical, tactical ideas to help you be more effective networking while you have a job. Even if you are currently unemployed, these actions will make you more successful when you land.
- Get out of the office once a week to network. Remember to network at work and outside of work. Your professional network must reach beyond the four walls of your current workplace. Plan to connect with someone new or someone from your external network at least once a week and meet away from your place of work. Meet for lunch or coffee, play some golf, take a walk. Spend quality time and enhance your relationship with them.
- Don’t go missing in action; stay in touch with people in your network. Many people I know seem to disappear once they land a job. They get buried alive in work and don’t have any time to network. Don’t abandon what you worked so hard to create. Regular communication is necessary to maintain relationships. Don’t fall into the trap of non-communication just because you are busy on the job or heads down on the project. Let people in your network know what you are up to. It’s easy to do with social networking sites such as Linkedin and Facebook. Share an update on your Linkedin profile home page. This will get shared with everyone in your on-line network. For the more important relationships, reach out via telephone, make time to meet in person or drop a handwritten card or letter in the mail to them. This personalized outreach will send a strong message “I care about you and our relationship. I want to stay actively connected.’
- Think bigger when you network. When you network with others, consider larger possibilities. Explore ideas for larger impact. Discuss ideas and ways in which you might collaborate with each other to create more significant change. Who in your respective networks could make powerful new connections? Facilitate those introductions. Continue to do this kind of networking when you have a job and you might just create your next opportunity.
About the writer: Kathy McAfee is known as America’s Marketing Motivator and is author of the book Networking Ahead for Business (Kiwi Publishing 2010). In her role as Executive Presentation Coach and Professional Speaker, Kathy helps her clients to become the recognized leaders in their fields by mastering the art of high engagement presentations and more effective networking and connecting. To learn more about Kathy, visit her web site MarketingMotivator.net. To receive free weekly networking tips, sign up at NetworkingAhead.com