Should the axe fall and your job get severed, career counsellors warn, you'll have to get by with a little help from your friends.

 

Except, big problem: If you're like the average laid off employee, your friends will all be left behind in that same burning building.

 

That's why career counsellors recommend you foster industry friendships far beyond the block where you work, while you're still working.

 

“It’s much easier to have that network ready in place when you need it than to try to scramble and connect the people at the last minute,” About.com jobseekers’ guru Alison Doyle cautions. “Then, all of a sudden you’re begging people.”

 

And that, she explains, is what you'd least like to be doing: scrounging strangers for jobs.

Instead, agrees Connecting With Success author Kathleen Barton, your network should be in constant development, a regular exchange of favours and tips.

“It's about building mutually beneficial relationships, where you're not always asking for help when you're contacting them,” she says. “Maybe you're giving updates, or finding out how they're doing, or how you can support them.”

Or maybe you're just calling to say howdy — one friendly lunch hour phone call at a time.

Find The Little Reasons

Great networking, Barton offers, is about seizing those little excuses to reach out to a mere acquaintance.

“There are so many creative ways you can do that,” she says. Holidays help —and not just the passé ones like Christmas and birthdays. Think Halloween, she suggests.

“Rather than Christmas, when everybody gets cards, I send Thanksgiving cards to let them know I'm thinking about them,” she adds.