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Recently, Brazen Careerist blogger Monica O’Brian posted a blog titled, “Need a Job? Forget About Building a Network Now.” I am a big proponent of networking all of the time and agree that it takes consistent effort to nurture and grow a strong network of people who will support your career and job searches. I also believe that ANY time is a good time to network; it’s never too late. Monica’s post made me think that many job seekers may believe that it is too late to network if they are thrust into a job search. I would like to offer a different opinion:
It is never too late to network successfully.
Monica notes that “Building a network is a lot like planning your retirement; it takes a lot of little inputs over a long period of time.” Yes, ideally retirement planning should start from day one of your working life. The compounding nature of investing money over decades will (hopefully) lead to a nice nest egg when it is time to stop working. However, if you haven’t started saving money in your 40s or 50s, does it mean that you shouldn’t bother to start? Of course not. Any money that you save will help you in the long run. Similarly, even if you are networking at the 11th hour, any one contact you meet is better than having none.
Let’s face it, you could make one connection that leads you directly to information or the job of your dreams. It does not necessarily take a slew of meetings, coffees and large networking events to find that one person. Any networking is better than no networking at all, so don’t be discouraged. Look ahead and move forward with a positive attitude and a plan.
Many people assume that only strong connections are likely to lead to a job. Monica suggests that job seekers should rely on friends who know them well to connect them to appropriate opportunities. In fact, research demonstrates that “weak ties” are always more important than strong ties for job searching. This comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. He says,
“Your friends, after all, occupy the same world that you do. They might work with you, or live near you, and go to the same churches, schools or parties. How much, then, would they know that you wouldn’t know? Your acquaintances, on the other hand, by definition occupy a very different world than you. They are much more likely to know something that you don’t” (p.54).
In order to network beyond your immediate circle of friends, you will need to make an effort to extend yourself. Use linkedin or other appropriate social networking sites and attend meetings or programs where you are likely to encounter people in your field who could offer information and resources that you need.
If you sit around and bemoan the fact that you don’t have a network, you are only wasting more time! If you plan to drive you own career bus, get behind the wheel and start networking. It’s never too late to start a good thing!
Keppie Careers will help you network for success. Need a great resume? Linkedin profile? www.keppiecareers.com.