"If you donít network, you donít get work." - Unknown
How powerful is your network? What would happen if you got fired today? What would happen if you had to fold your business and declare bankruptcy? What would happen if a loved one needed emergency medical surgery not covered by insurance and it was a matter of life and death? How many people in your network would be able to really help you out when the going gets tough? Would you be able to pick up the phone, call up one of your contacts, and get a decent job referral or have them lend you some money to tie you over?
This might sound like too serious and morbid a topic to even think about during the holiday season, but letís face it Ė many employers wait until after the holidays to break the bad news, and many businesses fold after a bad holiday shopping season. So if you havenít asked yourself this question, now is a good time to ask and honestly answer the question.
Do you think that someone you havenít called in months, maybe years, is going to open up their wallet or rolodex and help you out of the kindness of their heart. Maybe. And thatís a BIG maybe. But in all likelihood, I think not. In fact, it would be insulting to the person and demeaning to you, that you never bothered to stay in touch, and are only calling to hit them up for some money. In some cases, people do have the financial and/or human resources to help out; but itís more likely they will help out someone they know and trust over a stranger.
Networking is not about handing out and collecting business cards. Itís about developing relationships. Itís about picking up the phone and calling people and staying in touch with them. Do something nice for someone in your network. Refer them a lead for their business. Offer to help them out on a project or to lend a helping hand if theyíre moving. Theyíll remember you for it.
Stay in touch! And for heavenís sake, if someone gives YOU a lead, follow up right away!! Life is too short and fragile. I remember getting a good lead from someone in regards to contacting the legendary Canadian author, Pierre Berton, who wrote 50 books in 50 years, and won three Governor-Generalís Awards and 14 honorary degrees. I kept putting it off, and putting it off, thinking I had all the time in the world, and eventually the lead got filed away somewhere and I forgot about it. Mr. Berton died three days ago at the age of 84 at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto of complications from diabetes and heart disease. Canada is at a loss. I most certainly am at a loss.