Start strengthening your network now - Metro US

Start strengthening your network now

Should the axe fall and your job get severed, you’ll have to get by with a little help from your work friends. Except, big problem: If you’re like the average laid-off employee, your friends will all be left behind in that same building, which is clearly firing more than hiring in these dire days.

That’s why, career counselors recommend, you foster industry friendships far beyond the block where you work — and now, 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.”

Instead, agrees “Connecting With Success” author Kathleen Barton, your network should be a long-standing structure, a regular exchange of favors 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. “Don’t try to build a network overnight,” Doyle advises. “Take it one step at a time. Spend a little bit of everyday working on it, looking for new contacts. Don’t be intimidated — you’re not the only person who is new at this.”

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