In the last month, I’ve written down a few comments from some of my executive clients who just lost their job or may lose their job:
“I need to really develop my network now. I kind of neglected that in my current job.”
“How am I going to find the connections I need to get some better interviews fast? My network’s dried up.”
“I thought the job market was pretty good. But there is a ton of competition at my level. People are not responding on LinkedIn and for sure not via email.”
I hear things like this all the time, not just from clients in a career transition but from people frustrated by having to start, develop and obtain value from their networks.
I can’t help but think: If you ever needed a brain surgeon, wouldn’t you want to identify the best and most affordable one in advance, long before you even needed that person? The same can be said for your professional network, especially in an executive job search when there are fewer jobs available and higher pay at stake.
So many new, effective connections and contacts happen naturally. Networking becomes more difficult when you’re urged to create a network quickly and ask that network to help you. If you add anything that creates a strain, you quickly add stress to the situation. For example, add job loss to the equation and the stress factor rises for you. It pressures your network to perform under pressure.
The best networks are created through reciprocal needs and are based on strong relationships. Networks don’t flourish online or offline by expressing your needs. They grow through give-and-take relationships and mutual trust.
Are there effective ways to create productive networks quickly? Yes, but it takes a high degree of etiquette, finesse and patience. Here are three effective ways to build your executive network under pressure:
Start with a focus group mindset.
A focus group is a demographically diverse group of people who participate in a guided discussion about a particular product before it’s launched. In this case, the product is you and the purpose of this focus group is to provide you with ongoing, productive feedback on your job search campaign.
Create a roundtable of peers, associates and critical players who will be willing to help you in your job search or career endeavors. Be willing to buy coffee, biscuits or host a creative event if you want them in a room together. Keep in mind you could still create the group even if you don’t bring them together physically.
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