With high unemployment, intense competition for jobs, and the threat of downward mobility instead of upward mobility, it pays to know what your secret weapon is against unemployment. It’s so simple that you might overlook it. It’s your network. Not just your network of friends and neighbors, although they can be helpful, but your professional network is an effective buffer against joining the unemployment line. Or at least reducing the amount of time that you spend there.
According to the Wall Street Journal, online job boards have only a 13% success rate in the job search process whereas networking accounts for approximately 70% according to ExecuNet. With such compelling numbers it only makes sense to maintain your network whether you are actively looking for a job or not.
Most individuals have a built-in professional network from previous companies where they have worked. If you have had good working relationships in your previous positions, no one would be in a better position to refer you when jobs become available than your co-workers.
Here are some tips for staying in touch with former co-workers once you leave an organization:
Once you have a landed a new job, be sure to your former co-workers know about your new position. You can do this by phone or email. And be sure to give them your contact information so that you can stay in touch.
Stay in contact with your former co-workers when you don’t need anything. Periodically send them a professional article that would be of interest to them. Send them an e-card for the holidays. These are nice ways of just maintaining the relationship.
Call or email your professional contacts to bounce ideas off them. People love to have you ask them their opinion. It’s a way of staying in touch and at the same time having a sounding board.
Create a tickler file on your calendar (you might want to use Microsoft Outlook) to remind you to contact people in your network on a quarterly basis. If you don’t schedule it, you’re unlikely to do it, and your time will be taken up doing other things.
Start a Yahoo group for former co-workers for the professional advancement of all who are interested. This is a great way of staying in touch with people who know you professionally. This gives you a network of professionals outside of the organization that you currently work for. You can exchange links to professional articles, ask for advice from the group, and keep each other abreast of what is happening with the group members professionally.
Create a profile on a professional online networking site like LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to connect with former co-workers by listing people who worked for your old company. You can also join any alumni networks on LinkedIn that are specific to a former company.
Clearly it takes effort to stay in touch with your professional network, but if you remember that they are your secret weapon against unemployment, it will keep you motivated to invest your time and energy into maintaining these very important relationships.
For more tips on networking, contact a career coach today at 877-743-9521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.