November 6, 2013

Your Professional Network and why it’s Letting you Down

3D illustration of icon people linked by communication lines that start from one person out in front of the crowdOkay, so your current job has worn out its welcome and you are on the market for a fresh, new position with higher career potential, better salary, the works. But the idea of polishing your resume and kick starting a weeks-long job search online is making you consider just sticking it out with your current occupation, no matter how unfulfilling the role. If only you could become immediately connected to the right people who could offer you great career advice and even get you access to contacts that can get your foot in the door at a number of potential employers. Then top it off with a speedy interviewing process that can help you quickly see what’s out there in the job market? Now that would be something worth pursuing.

Fortunately, those options are already imminently available through LinkedIn. But even the power of LinkedIn can’t compensate for your lack of relevant connections. Since all of the people in your network are from current or past jobs, they are largely of no use to you. Furthermore, you haven’t actively tried to meet new people and none of your network knows you beyond the breadth of your previous titles. So how can these problems be fixed? It’s easy.

If you’ve got some time before you plan to begin your job search (say, six months) start meeting people that can help you out at that time. Start making lots of coffee and lunch meetings with as many industry insiders and influencers that you can manage. And not just people from within your industry, but from all over. Never let an email from a potential professional contact go unanswered. Answer their questions, share information, and offer your help whenever it can be useful.

Don’t let old connections die. Reconnect with people you haven’t contacted in a while. Send them a birthday card, type them an email sharing what you’ve been up to and asking to reconnect. Do whatever it takes to get people thinking about you and ready to help you when the time comes for referrals, access to jobs, and words of advice.


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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.