How Healthy is Your Network?
Are you a networking pro?
Margaret Steen | HotJobs
If you needed to find a new job, how many people could you turn to for help? If the answer is “not many,” you may need to upgrade your professional network.
“Maintaining a network should be a routine part of your career-development strategy, not just something you turn toward in a career crisis,” said Janet Civitelli, associate director of University Career Services at the University of Houston, who works with both students and alumni.
Civitelli and other experts offer these questions for assessing the health of your network:
How many former coworkers’ contact information do you have?
Focus particularly on your peers and people above you in the organization.
The more people you’re in touch with, the better. If you need to beef up the number of people in your network, a tool like LinkedIn can help, both with searching and with keeping up with former colleagues’ job moves.
Does your network include a handful of people who could serve as references?
These people need to be willing to recommend you — and they need to know your work well. “References can’t be vaguely positive,” Civitelli said.
If you can’t think of four to six good reference candidates, you need to step up your networking to make sure people you work with know about your achievements.
How many of your contacts have you communicated with in the past six months?
This is a measure of your active network.
“You don’t need to talk to everyone in your network every three minutes,” said Richard Phillips, owner of Advantage Career Solutions. But you should check in regularly, even if you just send a brief email saying you hope all is well. That way, when you do need to ask for job-hunting help, it will be “emotionally much easier” to make the contact.