Keeping your network warm

Some time ago, I addressed a group of job-hunters who were wrestling with age discrimination as well as the conventional challenges of looking for a new position.  As older workers, they were sharing strategies of how to draw on their experience and yet appear eager to learn new ways.

There were two recurring themes expressed by every member of the group:

I never thought they’d let me go after all those years.

I wish I hadn’t let my network grow cold during my last job.

The members of the group, all of whom were at least 50 years old, suffered from a sense of loyalty that had led them to complacency on the job.  And oh, how they regretted it now.  Because they had felt secure, because they believed that hard work would earn them some security, they had not kept meeting new people or expanding their horizons professionally.

When I asked what they will do differently when they land that next job, they agreed that this time around they will keep in touch with valuable contacts.  They will join organizations and they will keep in touch with each other, their new job-hunting pals.  Yet even then, while voicing resolve to do things differently, at least one person said it seemed disloyal to enter a new job while planning a survival strategy if that one doesn’t work out.

What do you think?  Is it disloyal to start a new job while planning for a possible job change down the road?  Does networking take time or energy away from learning/performing your new work?

I hope you will post a comment about how new employees can protect themselves by keeping their network warm and alive while committing their best efforts to settling into that new job.  It’s a challenge!


2 Responses to “Keeping your network warm”

  1. Maureen Anderson Says:

    Maybe the word networking trips us up–it does me–because it just sounds a little forced.

    I like the phrase you used, “keeping in touch.” Keeping in touch with people you’ve enjoyed working with isn’t disloyal, it’s natural–and fun. Getting to know people you might enjoy working with someday, the same.

    Career consultants tell me all the time, “The time to start planning your next job is from the very first day on this one.” If your bosses are managing their careers well, they’re doing the same thing. We’re all self-employed, as my consultant friend Cliff Hakim is fond of saying. You might have only one client at the moment–your full-time employer–but I can’t imagine anyone who would fault you for considering the possibility you’ll lose that client at some point…and need another one.

  2. anneheadley Says:

    It’s a great point you make – seeing yourself as self-employed. I’m going to propose that to my clients. It might open the door to creativity and satisfaction.

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