Have you heard? Our economy is not doing great. One cannot pick up a newspaper, read a website or hear a broadcast without stories about how the downturn in the economy is effecting everyone from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.
People are scared. Businesses are assessing their credit availability and are avoiding making any large decisions until the first of the year. Hiring is slowing in many areas. Consumers are nervous about making big purchases, too, as they conserve cash - there is less money for businesses (vicious circle). Wall Street and Main Street are linked. The near-term outlook for everyone is bleak (I say "near-term because we should never forget that every down in the economy is eventually follow by an up-tick!) as everyone from the person on the street to our political and business leaders look for solutions.
So what does this have to do with networking? EVERYTHING.
If you want to recession proof your career you must have a network of personal and professional contacts who know and support you. Waiting to network until you are laid off or in need is a horrible strategy to protect your future.
All opportunities come from people. While a simple statement, it is one you must take to heart. If you lost your job tomorrow would you know where to start your search for your next career? Statistics show that most jobs are filled (directly and indirectly) through contacts. If your network is limited, you ability to discover opportunities is limited as well.
If you are concerned about how the economy might effect your future it is time for you to assess you commitment to networking. When you are in need and you approach people to build a relationship it is clear that you are in the game for your own reasons. However, when you are not seeking help and you establish a mutually beneficial long-term friendship, the other person will be there for you instinctively if your career gets sidelined. You will not need to sell yourself to others who already know about your unique talents.
Which of the following people would you naturally be more likely to want to assist?
1. You get a phone call from a friend-of-a-friend whom has been out of work for three months. You have never heard of this person, but she is aggressively seeking to get on your calendar to "network". When you meet with her she seems desperate for a job, and tells you all her woes about her former employer and how she did not see the lay-off coming. She tells you all about her financial situation and how she got a less than standard severance package that is not going to last much longer. Her resume is nice, but nothing in the written word stands out or makes you say "WOW". You know nothing more about this person than what you learn in your 45 minutes together in a Starbucks.
2. You get a call from a business associate whom you have known for two years. She has sent you several referrals and you see her regularly at the local business and civic events that you attend. She is always cheerful and enthusiastic, and people around town speak highly of her commitment to her chosen career. The company where she worked just closed down, and she is calling you to tell you about her job search and ask you for advice. You know first hand that she will be a great catch for any company, and that she will make you proud if you recommend her to anyone in your network.
Duh? Number 2 will have the power of her network, and yours, working for her. The first person will get a courtesy cup of coffee with several people, but very little help from folks.
Now, whom would you rather be if you are a victim of the bumpy financial times?
If you are not already a champion of developing a large circle of influence, do not wait until it is too late. Your network is MORE important than ever!!!
Have A Great Day.