Not waiting until you are in job search mode to connect with people is obviously the best path. Of course, so many of us get caught up in doing our jobs that we neglect our network… until we need them. Problem is, if you haven’t been actively networking, you cannot expect too much from them when you suddenly need help.
Career Strategist Harriette Lowenthal suggests a gentle breaking of the ice to begin reconnecting, rather than leading with “Hey there! I’m in job search. Can you help me out?” What she suggests is sending them an article and saying something like, “Hi there! I saw this article. Made me think of our days at ABC Company. Thought you might be interested. Would love the opportunity to catch up.” Another idea is to see what groups they belong to and send a note saying, “I see you’re a member of XYZ Group. I’m interested in joining. What can you tell me about them and their membership? What’s been your experience as a member of the group?”
Listen to Harriette in this Master Class excerpt talk about reconnecting with colleagues on LinkedIn.
No matter how you do it, if you’ve let a connection become dormant, you need to find ways to revive it before you start asking for help. While you’re reviving a connection you need, you may want to consider reviving connections you don’t currently need. Send them a link to an article you find relevant to them; comment on something they’ve posted; ask them about a group; give them a call; take them for coffee; find something you can offer to help them with. Successful networkers are always looking for reasons to connect with their network so that their network is active and healthy.
As Adam Grant said in Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, if we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships. So invest in your network in a planned, ongoing manner. ExecuNet’s LinkedIn expert, Career Strategist Pat Romboletti, suggests scheduling one hour a week to reach out to people in your network to share articles, comment on posts, offer help, and connect people with others in your network you think they’d be better off knowing. If you don’t schedule it, you won’t end up doing it, and you’ll end up with a neglected network that isn’t helping you and won’t be much use to you when you need it. Invest in yourself. Consider it career insurance. You have life insurance. You have car insurance. You have homeowner’s insurance. You have medical insurance. You should have career insurance. Career insurance is a healthy network. Pay your premiums in the form of reaching out to your network one hour per week. Pay those premiums now and you’ll be able to make withdrawals down the road when you need to.
Go to your Outlook calendar right now and set a recurring weekly one-hour meeting titled “Nourish Network.” Go ahead, your career will thank you for it!
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