A large percentage of our placements come from referrals. The clear message is that networks are a vital resource when you are in job transition. But what happens to your network when you’re not looking for your next job?
When you’re secure in a job, do you lose touch with your network? Are all those contacts forgotten until the next time you’re in need? If you’re answer is yes, you are making a huge mistake.
What I’ve Learned from Executives in Transition
I am the Director of First Impressions and Executive Transition Leader with Centennial. In this role I have the great privilege of interacting with many executives in transition. This interaction has given me the advantageous perspective of reoccurring themes among transitioning leaders. One of the biggest regrets I hear over and over again is network disengagement. You find a job and you end communication with your network.
There are many reasons to maintain regular contact with your network. I’ve listed many of the key reasons below.
The Benefit of a Network —Beyond Finding a Job
New opportunities. When interacting with your network, you create relationships outside of the areas you specialize in. Sometimes networking beyond your comfort zone can spark great conversation, new learnings and fresh opportunities.
New friends. Networking is all about relationship building. You never know who you are going to “hit it off with”. You may be surprised how many friends, as well as business contacts, can grow from the networking process.
The Benefit You Provide to Your Network
Pay it Forward Mentality. People like to share their knowledge and experience. It’s a great opportunity for someone to reflect on how far you’ve come and share that wisdom with someone else. In general, people enjoy learning about you and want to invest in your talent.
Listening Ears. Many people, especially leaders, have limited people they can open up to. It can get lonely at the top. Having conversations with people in your network help them think through ideas. You are helping them by having a simple conversation where they can let their guard down a bit. They may help you strategize your goals, or you may end up helping them strategize theirs.
Offer of Help. When you interact with your network always, always ask, “What can I do for you?” Offer to help them in return for the time they’ve invested in you. Networking is a two-way street. You have connections, knowledge and talent they don’t have. You can offer a lot of value to your contacts.
LinkedIn is just one resource. Do not rely on LinkedIn as your main source of connecting with people. LinkedIn is one small variable in the process. If you are currently in an active job search, 10-12 personal meetings per week is a great number to target.
Attend networking events. Be on the lookout for networking event and workshops. We also recommend participating in community service for the dual benefit of giving back and broadening your network.
Don’t Lose Touch
Your network is quite possibly the single most important door to your future career and current success. Be sure it’s a compilation of individuals within your specialty as well as outside of it.
Recognize your network for the treasure that it is–one you don’t want to forget about. You have just as much to offer your contacts as they have to offer you.