Laid off in America

Monday, April 21, 2003

I heard from Meika who says he doesn't have a network. Starting a network from scratch is super hard work. But worth it, I think.

First, I would like to challenge anyone who says they don't have a network. You might have to start with really "far away" networks. Let EVERYONE you know that you are looking for a job, what you are looking for, and even where you are looking if you have any organizations in mind. Mom, dad, spouses, friends, doctors, dentists, vets, the guy you buy coffee from, the woman next to you on the bus, who ever you can strike up a conversation with. Carry your business card (I ran mine off the computer) where ever you go. While I never got so lucky, I've heard antidotes of people getting job leads through some really odd places--you never know who knows whom or has heard what.

Second, join professional organizations in your line of work. I drew names (blind) off one professional organization membership list that I'm a member of and contacted those folks. I actually ended up having face-to-face or phone meetings with a good number of them. I'm now good buddies with a woman from that organization and she and I are looking for free-lancing work together (and she's better connected, creative, and more experienced at free lancing than myself), plus she's become a friend. I attended a professional meeting that I heard about by one of my husband's co-worker's wives. She introduced me around, I met a woman, and she asked ME to come in and interview at her company. Along the same lines as professional organizations are alumni networks. I connected with my undergraduate school's alumni network. I must admit I never called anyone off of it. I did explore it but didn't see any connections that I wanted to pursue. I am well connected with my graduate department's alumni and got a lot of networking and leads through that. But the school I attended for my graduate work charges to get on that alumni network. I didn't join--putting that off to pursue in case nothing else netted me anything.

Third, join networking groups. There are groups out there just for networking purposes. I know that NYC's chamber of commerce has regular networking meetings. I only went to one and must admit I was pretty overwhelmed at the prospect of talking to all these strangers, alone. So if you can take a buddy to help, maybe that would make things easier. There are also networking groups for unemployed folks. Right now, there are TONS of these. I went to one that specialized in human resources and actually got a few networks through this group. I must admit I didn't utilize this option as much as I could have. But I was meeting people through other venues so figured I would slack off here. But if you are just starting, at least it's good practice to get your butt out the door and meeting people face-to-face.

Finally, and the hardest, call people you would love to introduce yourself to, that you have NO connection too. At one of the big financial firms (who was laying people off in droves at the time), was a chief learning officer I wanted to meet. He made a big name for himself at a huge manufacturing firm doing really great stuff as a CLO. Before that, he was an academic and wrote one of my favorite articles of all times. I sent him an email asking if I could meet with him. I tried to call him but his secretary wouldn't even take a message. How was I going to get a hold of this guy? He emailed me back, himself!!! I met with him, we had a nice chat, he forwarded a few job leads to me and gave me the name of some folks to extend my network. It probably wasn't my "richest" network. But I was so proud of myself that I'm still patting myself on the back. So aim high! You never know.

And no excuses. Think about it from the hiring manager's perspective. During these times when there are way more talented people than jobs, having people "fall in your lap" is a lot easier than sifting through a billion resumes off the internet--even if you advertised the job on the internet. And it's a lot cheaper than search firms. In fact, search firms are having a hard time because that's exactly what hiring managers are doing. They don't need to hire a search firm and pay the extra money. Networking may be the only way to find a job right now. Unlike a few years ago when you COULD just send your resume via the internet and actually expect to find a job.

My networking meetings last week went well. Nona had some ideas about others she would like to talk to about me. I might get some free lancing through it. Phil, we had more of a social lunch. He's top notch, well connected, and a really fun guy. I can network and have a lot of fun, too! And it energized me enought that I contacted a handful of folks on my list just to check in and say hi. They all wrote back.

Has anyone started a network from scratch? Does anyone have stories they want to share? posted by Valerie 8:45 AM

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The experience of the new rite of passage among today's professionals: Being Unemployed

Contact me
You can contact me by sending me email at

This blog's mention in the July 2003 issue of Fast Company
Web of Despair.

Other unemployment blogs I have found
Ask your ass.
All about Jen.
Homee's job search.
Get that job.

Some blogs I like but haven't been updated in a while
Where The Hell Did My Job Go.
Invisible Matrix.

Credit problems?

What's keeping me occupied while I'm unemployed?
My husband and my travel photography blog.


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