7-Step Networking Checklist For The Unemployed

In Business, Networking by Joe Sweeney

I’m willing to bet that over the past three years, you or somebody close to you has stared either unemployment or underemployment square in the face. The ripple effect of bank failures, as well as factory closures, losses at the retail level, and small business cutbacks, has caused a tsunami loss of millions of jobs in this country. The unemployment rate has hovered between 5 – 10 percent for a few years now, and everywhere you look, hours and benefits are being cut by employers.

If you are one of the more than eight million Americans who experienced a lay-off, I feel your pain, and this post is dedicated to you. Hiring is often a relationship-based arrangement and networking, I believe, is your best chance to get hired again. Now is not the time to retreat behind closed doors, but instead to get out there and tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. A favorite maxim of mine is that the difference between networking and not working is just one letter. And even if you’re fortunate enough to remain gainfully employed, this column still offers valuable advice because you never know when you may be calling on a friend or business acquaintance to land that next job.

So are you ready to get started with landing your next job? I hope so. I’ve put together the following checklist of things you can do to get yourself working again:

→ Begin by taking inventory

You’re unemployed. As tough as that notion is to embrace, you have to accept it. Losing your job happens. Take heart in knowing that you’re not alone. You need to look around, realize exactly where you are, and take 100% responsibility for getting yourself back to work.

→ Get in the right frame of mind

Your thoughts create feelings inside you, and those feelings lead to behaviors, which lead to results – good and bad. What you want to create is good results from positive thoughts. Let me show you:

In a negative mindset, the thought is “I’ll never get a job.” How does that make you feel? Hopeless, helpless, worthless, powerless. How’s that going to make you behave? You’ll be hesitant to make that call or go the extra mile. The results? You’ll probably stay unemployed.

But what if you were to reframe that with a positive mindset? Thinking “I will find my ideal job that I’m passionate about” leads to feelings of excitement, liberation, and freedom to overcome any obstacle. As a result, you’ll do whatever it takes to get a job, including the 5/10/15 plan I describe later on. And your results? You’ll probably find that dream job.

→ Change your mindset

A layoff notice might be just the kick in the butt you need to try something new. I want you to look at your unemployment situation in a new way, perhaps even as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something that you’ve never done before. You need to begin thinking counter-intuitively and do things that are different.

→ Be willing to reinvent yourself

Unless you have a skill that is readily employable, you may have to reinvent yourself and your career. Now just might be the time to learn a new trade, relocate to a different city, or realize that you’re not beneath any position.

→ Consider working for free

Go find that ideal job and do it for nothing.  Offering your services gratis may get you the break you were looking for. What do you have to lose?

→ Go volunteer and counsel other people

Helping others with their problems not only gets you outside yourself and takes the focus off your problems, it gives you the perfect opportunity to network and meet people.

→ Realize that networking is your best chance to get hired again

This is not the time to pull down the shades and retreat into the shadows. You need to tell people that you’re looking for a job and enlist them in your search. Don’t be bashful. There’s no better time to adopt the 5/10/15 program, an idea that I came up with years ago. Try to meet or engage with five people a day. Send out ten emails. Make fifteen phone calls. If you can do that every day, it will expand your networking horizons and greatly increase your chances of landing that next job

I truly hope and believe that the steps I’ve outlined here will lead you back into employment. Now it’s up to you to take a deep breath, look around at your options, and then develop an effective networking strategy to land that next job.