Why Network When You’re Already Working?

12 11 2010

When I’m working, who has time for networking?

It’s hard enough to keep in touch with family and friends.  Where am I going to find the time to stay connected with former colleagues, customers or suppliers, job support group members, LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and on and on.

And why bother?  I have a job, so unless I’m looking to change, what’s the point?  I don’t need their help any more, and if and when I do, I’ll just get my network back into shape in no time.  In the meantime, I’m just too busy.

I’ve said it countless times before, but it’s very much worth repeating. Networking is not job searching. Networking is building and maintaining reciprocal relationships.  We network for more than job searching.  We network in all that we do throughout our every day lives, and yes, in our work lives as well.  We exchange information, we ask questions, we provide answers, we brainstorm, and we learn.  We enhance our existing relationships, and we make new friends and associates wherever we go.

But, why be proactive and try to keep it all going?  First of all, you never know about your current job; you should know from the past few years of layoffs that no job is secure.  Second, if you have been out of work, then you know how hard it was to ramp up your network when you were in need.  You suddenly had to scramble, build your LinkedIn profile, send out tons of Invitations, and learn how to use LinkedIn effectively.  What about Facebook – privacy concerns?  Maybe you didn’t know how to use Facebook, so you avoided it altogether.  Then, you tried to reach people with whom you had little or no contact for months or years, and ask for their help.  What did they do?  Some helped, and others disconnected their phone numbers, canceled their email addresses, and moved out of state, or so it seemed.

Networking works when your focus is on the person and the relationship.  Networking works when you’re in the giving mood, helping others.  Networking is so much more difficult when you’re mixing it up with job searching and needing help from others.

I am not suggesting that you keep in constant touch with everyone all the time.  I am suggesting that you learn how to keep in touch with many of your connections in different ways at different times, and that you maintain the closer relationships for you and for them, and not because you might need them the next time you’re out of work.

Be proactive – take a little time each day and each week – don’t let your networking muscles atrophy.  Regular exercise will keep your network healthy and thriving.  You will be surprised how much you and your relationships benefit from a little effort.

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