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Your network IS your net worth

This month the collective posts to coincide with Quintessential Careers Job Action Day on November 2, 2009.

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Career Collective post: Once a month, a group of career professionals blog on a subject topical and timely for a job seeker. We’ll post our thoughts on our own blog and link to the post of our colleagues on the same topic.
This month’s topic: Focus on providing workers and job seekers information, ideas and concrete steps to secure their futures in a changed economy. Responses from others contributors linked at the end. Follow the hashtag #careercollective on Twitter.


Networking dreamstime_5286093-editedDuring the past year, as I watched the face of the economy and, in turn, job search strategies shift, I started sharing the importance of networking and social media, more and more with my clients. Blogger and recruiter, Jeff Lipschultz included statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor in his post “40 jobs in 40 years? Fact or Fiction?” According to 2008 statistics individuals changed jobs, every 2.9 to 6.0 years. With that kind of movement, career management must include current job search knowledge. One of the most important segments of both career management and job search is an individual’s network. The tag line “Your network is your net worth.” advertises “Strictly Business”, a, weekly networking event here in Wilmington, NC and no words ring truer in the late 2009 employment environment.

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company; my mom with almost 30 years at another. The “retiring with a gold watch and a pension” days are long gone. The time when seasoned veterans sat and passed knowledge and the stories behind the design and series updates to junior employees are gone too. A strong network, cultivated over time, can serve everyone – employed or unemployed. The answers that used to come from the facility elders now come from your network and stability from four decades with the same company shifts to the stabilizing force of network connections.

Workplace dynamics now change quickly, bringing with those changes, a faster moving job market. Establishing a solid network of knowledgeable contacts helps uncover answers needed to advance a career or resolve a business issue. The problem is, many career-oriented people get so wrapped up in building their careers, the network gets neglected. I give career changers, the upwardly mobile and the unemployed all kinds of information about networking – almost as if it is a new concept, wholly foreign to them. It seems, now that they’re ready to launch a job search; they’re also ready to “launch” a network – “I’ll call ….” Unfortunately, networks don’t work that way. Waiting until you’re unemployed or ready to make a career move to start reconnecting with Joe from 10-years-ago isn’t the best plan … but then again, better late than never.

The network-less miss out on the value strong connections bring to professional and (yes) your personal lives. Not only can your network provide answers to business questions – “Who knows a good cleaning service?” or “I remember Sue had a similar event at her company, let me give her a call – shoot her an email.” Your network can speed the rebound from unemployment and make career transitions more palatable as support comes through your connections and beyond.

In an article titled, “How to Advance Your Career Without Selling Your Soul”, Joe Hodas made an interesting point. “Career-advancement tips may seem irrelevant while many employees are operating from a place of fear or are just grateful to have a job.” This puts many in today’s work force operating toward the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid, focused on protecting their jobs and the “what ifs” rather than career advancement or personal development. Shoring up workplace uncertainty with a solid network of reciprocal support makes career control and individual growth more likely.

A deep, broad, well-developed network supports improvement as well – whether it’s inspiring stretches for promotions, courage for career changes, encouragement for certifications, reaching fitness goals or self-actualization milestones. All the other tips I’d share with job seekers are the same as I’ve always said, (throughout this blog, Twitter tweets and Facebook posts), remember a job search is all about “them” – the employer. Approach everything you do from that perspective during the search and you’ll be ahead of the rest of the pack from the very beginning.

After setting the right course and understanding the process, take a step back and engage your network to uncover everything you can about the situation at hand, whether it’s job-related or job-search related. Here, in the “short rows” of 2009, more than ever, you network is your net worth, integral to career success. Nurture it with lots of giving and a little taking.

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Here’s what my colleagues have to say:

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

Chandlee Bryan: The Emerging Professional, Where the Green Jobs Are

Martin Buckland: The key to securing your future career

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

Heather R. Huhman: Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

Grace Kutney: Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

Meg Montford: Job action day: Finding your “mojo” after layoff

Hannah Morgan: Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them

J. T. O’Donnell: Actions that get people jobs in this recession

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are: 2009 and Beyond

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out?

And Katharine Hansen, our QuintCareers connection and Job Action Day 2009 coordinator generously shares these four posts.

Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes

Career and Job-Hunting Blog: Job Action Day 2009 Inspiring Stories

Job Action Day 09: They Leveraged Two Promising Recession-Era Opportunities: Green Careers and Entrepreneurship

Job Action Day 09: Recession is the Mother of Invention: Stories of Opportunity Springing from Unemployment

And here’s where else we’re listed: Thanks Katharine!

Career Doctor: Career Collective and other bloggers support Job Action Day 2009

Job Action Day: Empowering workers and jobseekers

Quint Careers: Job Action Day 2009 is all about emphasizing the bright spots in so-called “jobless recovery.”

QuintZine: Bloggers Drive Home Job Action Day Message

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39 Comments

  1. Gayle Howard says:

    What a fantastic post Dawn! There are many people out there who just don’t get the value of networking saying things like “How does having a coffee with someone get me a job? It’s just a waste of time!”

    However, I’ve seen first hand how relationships can create a job where none existed. Without putting pressure on friends, one of my clients, a senior executive in IT, listened carefully as a colleague recounted difficulties with current projects and talked casually about the key people involved. Just over coffee.

    The client then took this coffee talk to the next level by researching some more, seeking out the main players and providing a solution of how he could be the indispensable person they needed. Of course they agreed, and why start a new hiring process when there’s a person right there, right now, with the key to take away the pain? A candidate pool of one on their doorstep! That’s when networking works its best and that’s how it can work! Again, fantastic post.

  2. glhoffman says:

    Dawn…great post. I think this is one of your best, hard to do when you write so well.
    I think this ‘networking’ concept should be part of everyone’s modus operandi. Another word for it…is just make friends and keep making them.
    Networking often means calling people only when you need job help. Trust me, that does not work very much.
    well done.
    GL HOFFMAN
    (glad to take part in the collective this month)

  3. [...] Your network IS your net worth « Dawn's Blog thewritesolution.wordpress.com/2009/ – view page – cached + DawnBugni: @ExecJobCoach Jeremy 's such a good sport. @ jobsearchcoach :o) http://bit.ly/wDOGC October 31, 2009 + DawnBugni: Whew @djhornsby Scary stuff. :o) Thanks for the #followfriday… (Read more)+ DawnBugni: @ExecJobCoach Jeremy 's such a good sport. @ jobsearchcoach :o) http://bit.ly/wDOGC October 31, 2009 + DawnBugni: Whew @djhornsby Scary stuff. :o) Thanks for the #followfriday Happy Halloween!! October 30, 2009 + DawnBugni: Thank you!! @JeanneMale It's the thought that counts. (Read less) — From the page [...]

  4. dawnbugni says:

    Gayle, GL –

    Sharing makes us all stronger. We tend to forget the power of helping in our hurry up society. Thanks for helping drive home the importance of a solid network. Glad you’re BOTH an important part of mine.

    Thank you both for your kind words and thoughtful additions.

    GL – HAPPY to see you as part of the collective this month!

  5. Dawn,

    Great post! Now with so many social media options available, networking is easier than ever. And much of the awkwardness of losing touch goes away when you reconnect with someone online. But perhaps my favorite aspect of online networking is the ability to meet people who you were less likely to meet in the traditional way. Like you and me! I treasure our “digital” friendship and hope to meet you in person someday soon!

  6. YES! Another great post, Dawn. It’s clear that all of us in the collective see the value of relationship building in our business building. I devote a chapter to this in my workbook (Keep Working With Chronic Illlness) because I’ve seen how critical it can be. You’ve made great points here. Thanks — and thanks for being a twitter buddy!

  7. dawnbugni says:

    Barbara –

    I agree. I’ve “known” you for years via seminars you’ve presented (this blog is the product of one of your seminars!) and membership in the same professional organizations. This past year, social media has taken our relationship to a whole new level. I too treasure our digital friendship and look forward to the day when we do meet in person.

    Rosalind —

    Thanks for your kind words about this post. Without social media, I wouldn’t have you in my professional (and personal) network. I value your insights and too adore the fact we’re Twitter buddies with a common love for animals. I can’t say enough good about the time invested in building a strong network. You’re a prime example of the good that comes from it … this entire collective is for that matter.

  8. Rosa Vargas says:

    Dawn, you always write such insightful posts.
    You are absolutely correct to say that the network -less miss out. Boy do they ever!
    Few things stop people from networking. I think the number one reason is fear. Yet, I sometimes think that there are those who do not network because they think it egocentric. On the contrary, when you reach out to others in order to build a network and make yourself available to assist, you are being generous and generosity always attracts “rewards” tenfold. And, sometimes that means a job lead. Great post!

  9. careertrend says:

    Dawn,
    Wonderful post and rich with content and tips that people can apply to their career management and job search immediately.

    I love this line: “The network-less miss out on the value strong connections bring to professional and (yes) your personal lives.” — So true! It’s not about just adding value during crises, when we are suddenly unemployed, but also about day-to-day synergies, connections, helping hands and business minds when problems (both small and large) vex us.

    As well, by ‘being there’ for another during the day-to-day, we are fortifying the foundation of friendships, both business and professional, that will be available to support us when we are down. And by ‘being there’ on a day-to-day for others, focused on their needs, we have in essence, helped weave together THEIR safety net to protect them in days of escalated need. Truly, a win-win (cliche intended!).

    Jacqui

  10. dawnbugni says:

    Rosa –

    Thank you!

    I agree, fear is a big networking stopper, but if people can move past that initial trepidation, the rewards generated far outweigh the initial dread of reaching out to someone.

    I’m always amazed at how generous people really are, given the opportunity to help. And equally astounded by how a little giving brings more wonderfulness into my life.

    As GL said, it’s all about making friends. Happy to have you as part of my network! (Look at the friendship that developed through what started as a professional connection.)

  11. dawnbugni says:

    Jacqui –

    Thanks for your wonderful addition. I could go on for days and days about the power of a strong network, but suffice it to say, there’s no need to go it alone in this world — personally or professionally. We’re all in this together. Helping each other get through makes us all stronger.

  12. [...] Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth [...]

  13. Well said Dawn! I often say that a network is like career insurance…….Once you develop connections, don’t stop paying back to your contacts;investing in your network pays back providing long term access to potential job leads, mentoring, sharing, resources, information, recommendations, referrals, etc.
    Don’t just make contacts like a transaction but invest in new relationships that deepen and increase in value over time for both parties. Ideally, one should always be on the inside loop through one’s connections and learn about potential new opportunities via one’s network. Connections can mean avoiding the need to launch a job search from scratch or having to rely on advertisements or recruiters to find a new job, a less successful method when 70-80% of jobs are never advertised.

  14. “Your network is your net worth.” Dawn, I love that phrase! Thanks for taking an analytical approach to this topic. Maslow’s Needs Theory is a wonderful way to showcase what is happening.

    Your post should be read by all job seekers – it is written in a way that could calm the most anxious person!

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge on this.

    JT
    CAREEREALISM.com

  15. dawnbugni says:

    Debra –

    “Career insurance” love that term for a network. And you’re so right, networking means lots of giving, occasional taking and lots of nurturing.

    Thanks for adding such great info to the conversation.

    JT –

    Wish I could say I coined that phrase — I love it too. Thanks for the kind words!

  16. Dave says:

    What do you do when you are in a desparate situation and have neglected to build a network. In my situation I have to get back to work almost as if tomorrow and build a complete network in the process. I have never taken the time to keep up with any of my co-workers and my wife and I do not have other people that we do things with. Help!

  17. dawnbugni says:

    Dave –

    There is no “instant network” (or microwave networking). Your networking, at this point is going to consist of finding appropriate job leads, making the contacts and following up to find employment. Your best bet is to dedicate time to a job search, researching openings and being focused on application quality more than quantity.

    You can try reaching out to former coworkers, but it’s difficult to make the first contact in years, “Hey, I need help finding a job.”, not infeasible, but not easy either.

    Concurrently and going forward, start reconnecting with old contacts or start building new connections. Networking doesn’t have to be face-to-face, with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and all the other sites out there, you an have a strong network and a quiet life too.

    Nothing beats in person networking, but that doesn’t have to happen every single week. And it’s not all about a job search either. It’s about remembering someone is a stamp collector and sending them an article about a new issue stamp.

    Networking takes time, requires effort and is an ongoing process. Start today and next time you need a solid network, they’ll be there. For now, focus on your search and start to lay your network foundation.

    Good fortune to you.

  18. Dawn,

    This is a great post on so many levels.

    Yes, having a network is vitally important in today’s economy. Like you said, gone are the days where people worked 40 years and retired with a pension.

    Like a flower, if you cultivate your network, tend to it and treat it with care, you will reap spectacular rewards.

    Great advice.

    Erin

  19. Meg Montford says:

    As always, Dawn, your words hit the nail right on the head! (I love your Tweets for this reason, too.) Too many workers from customer service to CEOs think they can plug in and out of their networks – if they even have one – and we, as career professionals, must educate all on the critical need to network for the life of their careers. Yes, your “network is your net worth” and I thank you for sharing this career axiom with the world.

  20. dawnbugni says:

    Thanks Erin. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my strong network of career professionals. Working as solopreneurs, being able to bounce ideas off someone is essential to personal and professional development. People that don’t get the value of a network, don’t get the value a network brings either.

    Meg, thank you. I love the term Jason Alba coined in one of his blog posts a while back, “microwave networking”. Friendships don’t work that way. Networks don’t either. Contact waxes and wanes naturally, but it’s long-term relationship that bring the best rewards.

    Thank you both for adding to the conversation!

  21. Akuya says:

    Thanks for this…it says it all …and very well.

  22. Dawn:

    This is a great post! I am always referencing the importance of sharing information and nurturing your network. As usual, sound advice – interesting and motivating!

    Deb

  23. Jim Edwards says:

    First you have to know where the jobs are before you mount a strategy to go after them. Most executive job seekers look to executive recruiters and job boards for open positions. The problem with this is recruiters get 15% of all executive searches and fill half of them, and only 1% of anybody ever gets a job from a job board.

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