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My Network Fell Apart!!!

January 4th, 2007

Yesterday I started the day meeting with some great friends and bloggers for breakfast at 7am (that’s 6am my time). Then it was meetings and presentations all day long, and we finally rolled into our driveway at 9:30. There was an armadillo in the backyard so of course I had to chase it around in my nice clothes and new shoes – and a little bit of rain – but I didn’t catch it. What a way to end a Texas winter day!

This morning I had an outstanding presentation in downtown Houston, and now I’m headed to Austin for a very fun dinner with some very cool bloggers. I’m looking forward to it but going to take some Motrin right now 😉

I do have something on-topic today, and its interesting because I heard it one of my meetings yesterday and the meeting this morning. The question/issue that came up was essentially:

I have a “network” of working professionals. When they lose their jobs, then my network falls apart and is not valuable!

Wow! Where have I been this last year to not have heard this before?? Here are my thoughts:

– the value of each person in your network is not dependent on their job status

– one guy got laid off with his entire division (35 people)… so he thought that his 35 contacts there weren’t going to be able to help him… I said “now you know 35 people that should be out meeting prospective employers, meeting new people, etc. What a powerful group of people that can help eachother, make introductions and share leads!”

– networking is not a short-term thing – its long-term. What the give/take in the networking relationship changes as people and positions change (right now you may help me get a job, but tomorrow you may be my vendor/customer)

… thoughts?

11 Comments »

11 responses to “My Network Fell Apart!!!”

  1. Scot Herrick says:

    Hi Jason,

    People who lose their jobs are, in fact, one of the very best groups of people to stay in contact with assuming you like working with them and want to stay in contact, of course.

    From a strictly value-for-knowledge-of-jobs perspective, how easy is it to find fifty good people you’d like to work with, an opinion you trust, and knows about a company well enough to recommend it to you outside of people you know who have left your company and joined other companies?

    Through school? Social organizations? Yes, but often the discussions in those types of situations are about the subject at hand. But the common bond with people who leave your company is work. That makes it easy to talk about.

    Scot

  2. The value of your network isn’t measured by your being able to ask them “Do you have a job for me?” Rather your network is valueable if you can ask them “Who do you know who . . .”
    – who can give me information about Company X
    – who can identify the hiring manager in Company Y
    – who has information about . . .

    This ability doesn’t change when your contacts lose their jobs and their value doesn’t either. Being in the same situation as you they are painfully aware of the need to help each other and are therefore more likely to help you.

    Mike

  3. Francie says:

    Jason, you scared me! Feeling like I’m just becoming part of your network, I was alarmed at first. Then I read on – good headline. I’ve never been a part of a massive lay-off. There must be a huge feeling of losing support just when it’s needed most. Some companies offer ongoing counseling and outplacement – but that’s probably the exception.

    I think your advice is correct, but it may be hard for people in that position to see it at the time. So keep on sending the message! And, what in the world would you do if you caught that armadillo anyway?

  4. Thom Singer says:

    Jason-

    Whomever said this does not understand. He/she looks at the people in his network as something valuable only to him or her. By thinking a person who got laid off loses value as a contact is just rediculous. People are more than the company who signs their checks. No matter what happens to you, you always get to take your network with you. This is why key individuals are often hired away from the competition. Their social networks are portable…..

    I think the reason you never have heard that comment before is because it is wrong!

    See you at dinner tonight!

    thom

  5. Daniel Sweet says:

    Jason,

    As you mentioned last night, wouldn’t it be great if you still had contact information for everyone you went to college with.

    Why? Because they’ve all dispersed to all different fields, companies, and cities and would be an invaluable source of information, skills, and assistance.

    I look at people leaving jobs and headed to new, greener fields to be a great thing because they are actually more valuable being plugged into somewhere I never would have known about otherwise.

    The unspoken part of this, “They can’t hire me right this very second!”, it both true and shortsighted. As you also mentioned last night, networking isn’t a short-term thing.

    Dan

  6. The value of your network lies in what you can do for them. Networking is about giving – help enough people get what they want and you will get what you need. Therefore, unemployed members of your network may in fact be more valuable than the employed members!

    Kent

  7. Dan J says:

    I agree with what has already been said about people who become unemployed being more valuable. Knowing 30 people who you used to work with that get laid off or otherwise separated from the same company is a valuable thing. You share the commonality of working together in the same place, but, as time goes on, everyone branches out into different organizations and companies. I think maintaining the strength of those relationships over time is key.

    Just my $0.02.

  8. […] I was just reading a blog post over on JibberJobber. My buddy Jason, in his post "My network fell apart" was talking about statistics for how executives find jobs and the top way wasn’t networking it was recruiters. Just wanted to post a couple of brief thoughts on the issue: […]

  9. Three years ago I met a man through a networking group I run for professionals in career transition. He often tells me that the experence of being in transition made him a better networker, a stronger manager, and a better person. Since landing a senior level position, he has connected countless other professionals, come back to the group to offer words of encouragement, circulated job specs on all open positions within his organization to our group, helped dozens of people hone their resumes, and offered countless hours in informational interviews. He became an incredible asset to others both during his transition and afterwards because he got it…he embraced the concept of reciprocity that separates authentic networkers from the superficial ones and he offered support and empathy to every job seeker because he never forgot what it felt like to be in that person’s shoes and how valuable a few words of encouragement can be during a transition. Never underestimate the value of a networking contact who is currently in transition. They may very well be one of the most valuable connections you make during your search and beyond.

  10. Jason says:

    Great thoughts by all… thanks for agreeing with me 😉 The interesting part is that I think this idea will always prevail, perhaps less so as we have more people that are in this job transition cycle with more frequency.

    Francie, if I caught that dang Armadillo I would have left him with my mom as a house-warming gift (since I can’t take him on the plane). I think that it would have done well with the two house cats :p

  11. I too agree with you Jason. I (think) I’ve a safe job now but I apply and attend interviews almost every month (of course) to keep myself in touch with the process and I make sure that I make at least couple of friends when go to an interview. They can be HR dept people from that company where I attended the interview or people like me attending the interview. We do exchange a whole lot of info about the interview schedules in different companies.