Trusted Advice: Over 50, Laid-off, Neglected Network

neglected networkHere at ExecuNet, we are a source of trusted advice for anything related to your life as an executive. If it’s related to your career, business, leadership skills, or overall wellbeing, we have people here, or in our network, who can help you achieve your goals. Here’s a note that came in from a member asking about networking.

I’m 56-years-old and looking to move on to a larger tech solutions company. Problem is, I’d been with my company for 14 years and spent all my time and energy focused on doing my job. My contacts are limited mostly to the people I worked with; many of them were laid off during an acquisition just like I was. It’s not until I needed a job that I paid any attention to my network. It’s clear now that’s not the time to look to one’s network, but I was just so busy working! What are some ways I could have nurtured my network when I was in-role and what do I do now to connect with recruiters? –John in San Francisco

You are not alone, John! It is so common for executives to be consumed with their busy jobs, and trying to actually help raise their kids too, that things have to give. Very often networking is on the list of things that gives. Problem is, we all should be networking all the time, even when employed – especially when employed.

Employed networking is like taking out a career insurance policy: you make regular deposits into your network in case you need to make a withdrawal some day. You see now how hard it is to make a network withdrawal when you haven’t been nurturing your network.

The people in a network like yours will be willing to send your résumé to HR but likely won’t do much else. Many of them will be from your former company and are looking for work themselves! What you need now (and when employed) is a strategy to pull in attention. Right now you should get yourself to ExecuNet networking meetings; attend industry conferences – if possible as a speaker since once you have that on your résumé you become much more marketable and people will seek you out; comment on articles posted on tech sites, and post your own articles. You need to get your name out there as someone to know in your area. Give people something to see when they search your area of expertise. That will attract the attention of people who matter, influential people who will become interested in what you have to say and your goals.

Speaking at conferences and being a recognized published name in industry circles is something employed executives should seek to do. Make the time for that when employed and you will always have options because of your large active network. Opportunities will come your way with regularity if you’re networking and you’ll never feel forced into “needworking.” Your employer won’t mind time away for conferences because it increases their standing to have a recognized expert in the fold.

You mentioned recruiters. At this point, do not invest a tremendous amount of your time and energy attempting to network with recruiters, unless you already know them. From your note, I’m guessing you were not using recruiters to fill positions in your company before you were laid off. If you were recruited into your previous positions, those recruiters would be of use, as you have already been a good candidate for them in the past, but otherwise, your only way into them now is if you have a mutual connection, one the recruiter values, make an introduction. To increase your chances of a recruiter contacting you through ExecuNet make sure you have completely filled out your profile and have uploaded a current résumé.

In the meantime, spend time with a professional organization – helping out, seeking to help others, and making connections. Do the same with something you like on a personal level. You’ll be comfortable and not looking for something, which is exactly when opportunity will most likely knock.

William Flamme

William Flamme

William Flamme is ExecuNet's Marketing Content Manager, where he is responsible for developing engaging career, job search, and leadership insight and delivering executive-level content across the various properties under the ExecuNet brand. Prior to joining ExecuNet in 2008, Will earned a master's degree in education and taught fifth grade and sixth grade. As a teacher, he deepened his appreciation for the written word and mastered skills necessary for managing writers who sometimes view deadlines as homework.

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