Q: I am trying to look for a job because my company has just announced a merger. I fear that I will lose my job when all the internal departments are reviewed. I always hear about networking when looking for a new job. How can I do that while working full-time?
A: You are smart to be proactive. And yes, my mantra to job seekers is always “network, network, network and then network a bit more!” Most job seekers find jobs through a colleague, professional contact, friend, neighbor or relative. Ideally, you should have a strong and vibrant network even when you are not looking for a job. When you launch a search, it is not an onerous task if you have a strong network of professional contacts.
Looking for another position while employed is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you have a job and income. Often job seekers who are actively employed are more appealing to a prospective employer. I hear this from unemployed job seekers all the time – that they feel there is a stigma associated with being unemployed. The challenge is a search takes time and time is tough to find when you are employed, especially if your current role requires long hours.
You still have to find time to network though. Breakfasts or early morning coffees are attractive options for many professional. Lunches with local contacts may also be an option. A sparkling water or beer after hours is sometimes possible. Although not a substitute for networking, Linkedin can save you valuable time with establishing and re-establishing contacts. Although not always a popular choice, I have met with colleagues and contacts on weekends when time is simply not available during the week. While some are open to weekend meetings, some are not. Realize that some may consider weekends off-limits. Lastly, telephone meetings can work if over-scheduled calendars or geography prevents an in-person meeting.
You can also effectively network at social events that might already be on your calendar. Think about some of the springtime events that you may be attending. Are these events that could possibly lead to job opportunities? Maybe sitting at a child’s lacrosse game can have a dual purpose after all? Maybe an alumni mixer is a good place to re-connect with a few old faces? Perhaps a Memorial Day cookout is a place to make a few new connections?