At networking events in Paris I keep meeting people who were recently made redundant and are now looking for a new job. I often hear them asking people they have just met “If you hear of an opportunity or a company that needs my services, please let me know”. This is what I call ’emergency networking’. Unfortunately, it rarely works. People usually do not rush to recommend someone they have just met and chatted for a few minutes, someone they don’t know or trust to their network. It takes time to build your trusted connections. And frankly, that energy of desperation is not a very attractive or empowering one.
Why not to learn all the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of LinkedIn, build your network and raise your visibility well before the stormy times? One of my favorite sayings that I often quote in my work with clients in career management: “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.” It is the title of the bestselling book by Harvey Mackay in which he advocates building your network efficiently well ahead of the time when you need your contacts. Indeed, in today’s increasingly competitive job market, one cannot be over-prepared for the worst nightmare of an employee (eg cuts). Apart from this obvious consequence, if you manage your career now pro-actively, you will find yourself in the driving seat of your career, ie you will feel more empowered about asking for that salary rise you’d been promised long ago, for setting your boundaries about not working overtime for free or about raising the question of promotion.
So how does ‘smart career management’ or “digging your well before you’re thirsty” translate into practical terms?
1. Have a Plan B (eg your alternative plan) figured out. Think about what you will do if you lose your job (eg if your company downsizes, for example). What will you want to do? What are you prepared to sacrifice? Will you stay within the same industry? Will you accept a demotion?
2. Get clear on what makes you stand out in the workplace (your unique value proposition) and use it in your resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as your elevator pitch. You should be able to answer the question “A company X should hire me because I can do ……………………………….. (professional activity) better than ………………………………….(other professionals in your industry) because of my ……. ………………………………(specific skills/expertise/strengths/experience).
3. Raise your visibility and start attracting opportunities via LinkedIn. If you are not on LinkedIn, set up your profile, with a professional-looking picture, completely fill out your bio and put in as many keywords as you can think of. Get recommendations from colleagues and former colleagues. If you still have a job, don’t do everything at once – that might raise suspicions of your employers. Enhance your profile gradually. Your network will help you to thoughtfully tap into your next opportunity. I will give you detailed tips on how to use LinkedIn for best results in future blog posts.
4. Connect with your offline network on LinkedIn – your former colleagues, classmates, etc.
5. Take on a new project – the one that fits your Plan B vision, hopefully – that will expand your skillset and expose you to building new contacts.
More tips on building your network and attracting opportunities in future ExpatFactor blog posts. Make sure you sign up on the home page, not to miss them!