Investing a little time in your network now will save you a lot of stress in your next job search—and provide a lot of opportunities in the meantime.
If you’ve been even remotely active on LinkedIn, then you know the sure signs of someone whose job security is in jeopardy. After weeks or months of relative inactivity, a flattering new profile picture is uploaded, the resume is polished and organized, a couple dozen new contacts are added out of the blue.
And even though you hardly know them and haven’t spoken to them in months, they suddenly want to be your best friend—and will of course casually ask whether you have any leads on new jobs.
Stay on Your Creative Staffing Network’s Good Side
We encounter suddenly desperate people like this all the time in creative staffing. Former contacts that haven’t spoken to us in months come out of the woodwork inquiring about work opportunities and contacts. Usually we’re nice enough to help if we can—it is our job, after all. But you’ll get a lot more enthusiasm and effort out of your creative staffing agency (and the rest of your network) if you make the effort to keep in touch even when you don’t immediately need them.
When you start looking for new work, it always pays to have a robust and active network of individuals and organizations to fall back on. It will help you land on your feet if you’re facing a layoff, or keep a consistent stream of opportunities available if you decide it’s time to move on from your current post.
Too Busy for Your Future?
You’d think career slackers and the less motivated would have the most trouble keeping up with their network. In reality, some of the guiltiest perpetrators of network negligence we encounter are actually high-performing, high-talent individuals.
These are the people who devote themselves to their jobs—so much so that they’re often “too busy” to keep up with lots of friends and professional contacts. After all, who has time for casual coffee dates and dithering around on social media when there’s so much work to do? Then throw in a couple of kids, a hobby or two, and at least a little effort to get a bit of rest and relaxation. It’s easy to understand how networking can drop to the bottom of the priorities list.
But being blinded by the work in front of you means you could be missing out on opportunities beneficial to you and your employer.
Even when times are good and you’re happy with your job, you shouldn’t neglect your network. There are more advantages to networking than adding a few more Twitter followers.
- Job options with potentially better pay and benefits
- New friendships and partnerships
- Communication and relationship skill development
- Greater appeal to potential employers
Reasons that improve your performance and benefit your employer:
- More client contacts and business opportunities
- Meet others that could fill your company’s creative staffing needs
- Stay up to date on industry trends and news
Give a Little, Get a Lot
A lot of people shy away from networking because they perceive it to be too labor-intensive. We’ve all met the “Network Fanatic,” obsessed with spinning his web as wide as possible. Some people won’t rest until they have a half dozen meet-and-greet luncheons scheduled a week and all of Facebook’s billion+ users are their “friends.”
But you don’t need to invest that kind of time in order to get big returns from your connections. A couple of hours per month can be plenty to initiate a few new contacts and reach out to those in your various personal and professional circles.
This could be as simple as emailing congratulations to a former colleague on a new job, grabbing a cup of coffee with some old college buddies, or sending some job listings at your company to a friend of a friend that just got laid off. Throw in the occasional industry conference or offer a little time volunteering your expertise to someone in need, and you’ve usually done all you need to get by.
Pay It Forward to Your Creative Staffing Network
Take a little time now to acknowledge the existence of others and provide value to them with your personality, knowledge, resources and connections. Your friends, business contacts, and creative staffing firm will thank you. When hard times come your way or you’re ready for a change of pace, you’ll be able to call on your network to identify opportunities for growth and assist you along your path.