Three Ways to Tap Your Business Network For a Job

With Cisco Systems gearing up to cut 1,300 employees from its workforce, there’s nothing like a little layoff to get you entirely focused on finding a job. That’s exactly what happened to an acquaintance of mine who faced a layoff. Let’s call him Bruce.

Bruce, of course, is an action-oriented guy. And even the tough emotional experience of getting laid off doesn’t stop him from taking action. What does he do?

1. Ask for recommendations

The most visible place for recommendations is on LinkedIn. Bruce reaches out to his business network for recommendations and gets quite a few. Part of this is because the layoff is unexpected which helps motivate people to respond. But if you haven’t done good work that would merit a recommendation, you won’t get them. Fortunately in Bruce’s case, he had done the work to merit a recommendation and people were willing to provide them.

Hint: Get the recommendation before you have a layoff.

2. Ask about known job openings

This is very hard to do. It requires you to have the emotional maturity to tell people you’ve been laid off. It requires the emotional maturity to ask for help. It requires you to be vulnerable when you’ve just taken an emotional hit.

But, it’s tough to find out about open positions in companies from your network if you are unwilling to do these this tough, emotional work of asking about job openings. Bruce is and was willing to do so and found out about openings.

Another place to look are meetups. Not only do these events attract people from your specific slice of tech, but often you’ll find recruiters there too. Before heading out to a meetup, rehearse your elevator pitch and carry some of your personal business cards to hand out at the event.

Ideally, these cards should not only have your name and email address, but also a line that includes your occupation and a QR code that allows prospective employers to scan for more information about you.

 3. Be responsive

Nothing like sending information back to Bruce and hearing crickets. But, Bruce isn’t like that. Bruce responds to your email quickly. Even if it is just a thank you for the note, the response is made.

Think about it: if you were in Bruce’s business network and took the time to send a note off to Bruce about a job or a suggestion to help with the job search and you heard nothing back for three days, what you think about helping Bruce in the future?

Fast responses reinforce the fact that Bruce values your input and suggestions. Even if Bruce does nothing with that suggestion, he responded to your input which places value on your help.

Your emotional maturity matters

Look, when you get laid off, you basically go through the grief process. You go through denial that it even could happen, anger at the people who laid you off, and, undoubtably, think the whole company will fall apart because you are no longer there.

Even if the company (or department or project or function) falls apart, the truth of the matter is you are the one that doesn’t have the job and the income that goes along with it.

Despite this unpleasant fact and the tough emotions you are going through at the time, you have to develop the emotional maturity to ask your business network to help you. No matter how you feel about doing so.

Asking your network for recommendations, job openings, and being responsive to their suggestions will go a long way to finding those elusive job openings.

How have you used your business network in supporting your job search?

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4 Responses to “Three Ways to Tap Your Business Network For a Job”

  1. Why does #2 have to be tough and emotional–or saved for the time when you’re laid off? Asking colleagues–especially those at great companies–to let you know about amazing openings should be an anytime thing.

    • Kerry — I agree, this should be an anytime thing. Most people, though, don’t do that and instead wait until there is a layoff. That’s when the emotions kick in — you just lost your job and you aren’t feeling like you are sitting on top of the world ready to look for a job.

      Great point — thanks for contributing it.

  2. Via Conlon

    Scot – I completely relate to this. You’ve just about described in detail everything I went through when I was laid off after 19 years working in software engineering for the same company. If I may add my personal tip: approach the job-hunt with humble confidence. In your meet ups you will come across people with sage advice- listen and learn. At the same time, remember your accomplishments and remind yourself that you have talents and expertise to offer to the next employer. Thanks for a great read!

  3. James Green1

    The problem with networking is that everybody has advise on what you should do to get a job but no one has a job for you can apply for. For example my friend told me to get a Microsoft Certification for Software Development, another friend told me to get a CCNA. After looking at various job boards I cannot find an entry level position for someone who has a MCSD or a CCNA.