Blog Archive

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Importance of Networking in Challenging Times

Let's face it, the economy is in rough shape today. Wall Street is in a tail spin, the financial services industry (and related industries) are laying-off employees in increasing numbers, energy costs are higher than ever, the housing market is struggling to recover, it's enough to give you a migraine.

The good news is that even though unemployment continues to rise, it's still relatively low by historical standards. There are still good jobs out there, more in some industries than others, but regardless, great talent is still in heavy demand. If you find yourself currently in a situation where you have to find a new job now, or are concerned about what the future might bring, there is nothing more important for your future career prospects than to reach out to, and connect with your network.

Networking is proven to be the number one way for people to connect with great opportunities. I'm a bit of a network-aholic myself, and I can tell you that I wouldn't be where I am today without the network that I have grown and cultivated over time. Having a good resume is important, job boards are tools to connect you with job openings. But your best chances of finding that next great career opportunity is to reach out to your network and let them know that you are (or might be) looking to make a career move.

Making a career move for some people can be a very personal subject. In some cases, it's important to keep your job search out of the public domain. In situations where you need to make that career move however, your network offers you your best chance to connect with a new, great career.

Why? First of all most companies (McGladrey included) offer their employees financial incentives to help bring talent into the organization. At McGladrey, I consider ALL of our employees to be recruiters for our organization, and we compensate them nicely for their efforts. Secondly, referrals are often seen as carrying more value than candidates who come in through other channels. You would only refer talent into your organization that you would vouch for as being good, wouldn't you? Both you and your referrer have 'skin-in-the-game' in terms of your success in the new role as well. Finally, your network may be aware of job opportunities that have not been posted yet. It's a great way to get your foot-in-the-door early for that perfect fit job that could open up tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

Who is in your network? Family, friends, neighbors, current and former co-workers, current and former classmates, former employers, etc. Connecting with them in-person is ideal, but now more than ever, virtual networking has become a very powerful way to connect with and grow your network exponentially.

If you are not on LinkedIn currently, stop reading this now and join. LinkedIn is the predominant online business social network, with over 25 million users from all walks of life. I'm a big fan on LinkedIn and I'll write a future post on how you can and should use LinkedIn to supercharge your job search. In the meantime, I've posted a link to my LinkedIn profile below if you would like to connect (make sure to reference 'Success starts here.')

I'm also a fan of Facebook. Facebook is much more of a true social network, but for your job search, that's OK. Over 70 million users are now active on Facebook, and the fastest growing demographic is 25-35 year-olds. My 20 year high-school reunion is coming up, and my class has a group page. I've reconnected already with over 50 old friends, with new connections happening almost every day. These connections are primarily social in nature, but who knows, maybe they will pay off some other way someday, either for myself or for those I've re-connected with. (BTW, if you are on Facebook, be sure to visit the RSM McGladrey page and become a Fan!)

The bottom line is that you never know who in your network might lead you to that next great career opportunity. Don't wait for great jobs to come to you and don't rely on job boards alone to lead you to a new job. Take your job search into your own hands and let the people you know and trust help you connect with that next great career opportunity.

View Ben Gotkin's profile on LinkedIn

No comments: