The mantra of The August Group is “networking for life.” It’s a great mantra that everyone should embrace, regardless if they’re a member of that organization or not. Yet what percentage of people truly embrace continual networking? Unfortunately, not a lot. But this isn’t an August Group problem. It goes way beyond that.
Unless you’re in sales or are a small business owner in search of leads and customers, most people discover the value of networking when they’re looking for work. Unfortunately, most people only associate it with job search and discontinue networking once they land a new position. Very few continue to network and make it an ongoing part of their new professional reality.
Why is that? Are they lazy? Do they get complacent? Do they feel invincible in their new position and immune to another unexpected and sudden loss of work? Are they so introverted that they network strictly out of necessity and stop once the need passes?
I won’t buy the excuse that they’re too busy. We’re all busy! Attending a function once or twice a month for a few hours is something that virtually everyone can find the time for.
When I was looking for work, I had several people tell me that I should only network with employed people. Really? Why? Do employed people make better networkers? Do they know more people than those who are unemployed? Is unemployment a communicable disease that’s easily transferable? If employment is cyclical, then isn’t it possible that the employment status of your network could flip at some point?
As someone who’s been actively involved with The August Group for 3 years, I’ve observed the networking of hundreds of job seekers. I’d describe their networking as somewhat of a bell curve. They start with virtually no networking, they lose their job and start to network, they see the value of networking as a job search tool and increase their networking activity, they find work and their networking activity gradually trails off.
But, we’re not invincible and we’re not immune to another unexpected job loss. And just as you would continually tend to a garden you’ve planted, you should tend to your network by networking regularly/continually. When you do, your bell curve becomes more of a straight line.
So which side of the networking curve are you on? What’s preventing you from changing it to more of a straight line? Are you currently networking for life, or networking out of necessity?