As you might expect, I read a lot of HR, World-of-Work and Career-related material. The content of that material hasn’t changed much in the past months, but I have noticed a certain, “See? I told you!” tonality creeping into the writing of many of my favourite journalists and bloggers.
And they are right.

Anyone who deals with workplace and career management issues for a living will have been quietly and consistently telling you how to deal with being laid off, job-hunting, and career management in recessionary times – before they were recessionary times. None of the principles have changed. None of the strategic thinking you must apply to succeed in your working life has changed. What has changed is that a whole lot of people who were cruising merrily along in their careers are suddenly finding themselves needing to apply this kind of thinking to their lives – frequently for the first time. And I notice that people who, for whatever reason, haven’t been operating this way in the past, tend to expect microwave oven style results from their efforts.

And it does not work that way.

Look at it from the perspective of the person you are trying to network with. A power broker. This person is influential, plugged-in, deeply knowledgeable regarding his sector and the surrounding sectors and knows everyone who matters. His opinion and advice is constantly sought and he is happy to provide it, as doing so continues to expand his contact base and his knowledge base. His diary is full of quick lunch meetings and drinks-after-work meetings. You got to know this fellow through a boss of yours some years back and, now that you are threatened with being made redundant, you give him a call. It’s the first time he’s heard from you in over three years. He is sympathetic, listens carefully, asks some judicious questions and makes a few suggestions as to people you should talk to and knowledge you should acquire.

But that’s all.

(Cartoon from The New Yorker)

That’s all because you are only one of 30 people he has spoken to in similar circumstances since the beginning of the new year. And four of that 30 have been in regular contact with him over the past three years. They have shared knowledge, opened up new contacts for him and, inevitably, he’s generated increased business as a result of this expanded network. He may not feel beholden to these four people, but you can be sure that he is positively disposed toward them. So who is he going to reserve his favours, his introductions and his most useful nuggets of information for? You?

I think not.

So, if you haven’t been playing the game in the past few years, it is time to start. Your job may be solid, your sector expanding, your company doing very nicely, thank you. But start. Re-connect with a handful of people over the next few weeks and shoot the breeze. Go to a breakfast briefing and hear what the thinking is around the sector. Attend an after-work event organised by your trade association. And start. You brush your teeth every day, so they won’t rot and fall out of your head. You put your seatbelt on every time you sit into your car – just in case. So start networking; because it’s a hell of a lot better to have a network and not really need it than the other way around …

I have referenced Scott-the-nametag-guy a few time before here at the Oasis – his thoughts on being in the People Business and on CVs were both great. He’s written a doozy of a post on networking to start the new year. Clicky clicky.