They are both New Year’s Resolutions you will likely not keep. See if you identify with this scenario: You were unemployed sometime in the last year or two. This was the first time you’ve been unemployed for more than a month. It seemed like the world was going to collapse. It was scary, exhausting, frustrating and you had to dip into some savings to keep afloat. Then, after a long period and dozens of interviews you FINALLY landed in a new position! While you were unemployed you worked very hard to build up your network – connect with former colleagues, meet with new people, help others who were also unemployed. You promised yourself (and others) that you would not let your network wither; you would not end up in this place again. BUT – now that you have a new job its taking all of your energy – every waking moment is spent at work or with family and friends. You are backsliding into the very same habits – again!
That network that you worked so hard to build when you were unemployed: How long has it been since you touched base with each of them? How many new contacts have you made this week, or this month? Hmmmmm.
Here is what I know to be true: The economy will turn down again and we will suffer another recession in our working lifetime. I don’t know when, but it WILL happen.
Here is a test: If you lost your job tomorrow do you have at least 20 people you can call to immediately access positions for which you are qualified? If not, then you are letting yourself down and exposing yourself – just like last time. Here are some activities that will get you headed in the right direction:
1. Update your resume. Your resume, like your performance review, should be updated at least annually. This is a great time to do so since you are reflecting on last year’s accomplishments and everything is still fresh in your mind. Why would you wait until you are in a reactive place to polish it up?
2. Update your Linked In Profile. Some of you have been good at this. Many of you land a new position and completely forget to make the appropriate changes to your profile. Keep your contact settings the same (all contact scenarios) but update your position and promote your new company.
3. Play around with Branch out. This professional network inside of Facebook has some cool features. It’s easy to get started because you can import your profile from Linked In. I’m not sure if it will take off, but Facebook is making a huge play in the professional networking space this year.
4. Make 5 new Linked In Connections every week.When you meet someone new, take the time to connect with them on Linked In. These will be co-workers, business partners or cocktail party connections – folks who can positively influence your professional network value – so get connected!
5. Enjoy a coffee or meal with two people in your network every week. Here is my philosophy on meetings. DO NOT spend every waking moment with the people you work with on a daily basis. Make time to get out of the weeds and have professional relationships outside of your company. There are at least 15 meal events, 10 coffee occasions and 5 happy hours every week. That’s 30 opportunities to sit down and have some face time with your network. I’m only asking you to find 2 times – that’s fairly realistic, right?
6. Attend a minimum of 3 professional networking events every month. Remember all those meetups, dinner events, coffee chats and seminars you went to while you weren’t working. They are still out there. Remember how many new people you met at those events? There are more! I’m only asking for 3 events per month. Trust me, your wife and your kids will forgive you – especially if staying active in your professional community keeps you from being unemployed again.
7. Always take the recruiter’s call. I really don’t care if you’ve only been at your new position for a month – if a recruiter calls, take the call. Even if there is not a more perfect position in the world for you – offer referrals – help out a fellow human – pay it forward. Take the call – you’ll be glad you did.
So, are you going to nurture and build your network just like you resolved to do? Or, are you going to be a victim of the economy again and have to start cold – again? Think about it.
For more information on getting hired – and for a current list of job opportunities – visit us here.