I expect that everyone reading this blog has noticed an increase in the networking efforts of current friends. This most often manifests through requests for connecting on Facebook or LinkedIn. And, it is not just current friends requesting to link; I am hearing from friends that I have been out-of-touch with for more than twenty five years (that is nice benefit of this malaise).
The reason for the sudden interest in networking is obvious. Networking has long been championed as one of the best ways, if not the best way, to find a new job.
The question is whether traditional networking will work equally effectively in this downturn.
I think not. But, what do I know in a world where so many of the traditional rules are changing so quickly.
Networking made lots of sense to me when there are jobs available and the person looking for a job networked to find the proverbial "needle in the haystack." But, today, jobs are so scarce that networking to find a job is not likely to be as effective as in other times.
If I was without a job, I would network effectively, but I would couple that with an aggressive effort to convince an owner or manager that I could do a given job better than the incumbent. Ouch. Not the nicest of thoughts, in some ways. But, hasn't almost every job most of ever gotten been a matter of convincing someone we would to do a better job than the incumbent.
It is in targeting taking a job away that networking can be very powerful method of succeeding with this approach. Friends are generally willing to help when we ask them for something very specific. Merely asking friends to let you know if they see anything for you underutilizes your network.
Ultimately, the willingness of your network to help you...whether to find a job or to help you in some way to unseat an incumbent...is a function of the quality of your network.
I see so many people thinking that the name of the game is to build the biggest Rolodex, or the greatest number of contacts on LinkedIn. The secret of the best networkers has long been quality over quantity.
Coming Next: Building an Effective Network, the second in this three part series on networking.