Mid-career professionals make their own luck when it comes time to search for a job. Even in the worst of economic times, you need to stay ahead of your own career path. For example, if you have been enjoying (if you are lucky!) a 3 to 4% pay increase in each of the last few years, you can do the math and calculate your salary five years from now.
Given other economic volatility, that number over the coming 12 months is likely to be lower than inflation. So, you are going backward. Professional networking is one best practice to help you do better than that.
Step it up now!
If you can predict your next year’s salary based on your recent progress, you can also calculate where your salary needs to be this year to put you in the lifestyle you want then. To get there, you probably need to make a job change into a salary range some 6 to 10% higher than your current pay scale. That’s your accountability.
You need to come to an understanding that your job search will take some time, approximately one month for every $10-grand you want to earn. If you start now, where does that put you on the calendar? And, the risk that time represents is your loss of interest in the process. Once you set out on a search, you need to make the commitment fully.
Do the usual – then do it better!
Any job search requires some basic tasks like refreshing your resume, cleaning up your social network profile, and crafting a plan for your search.
A core task will be to develop and implement your personal professional networking plans. If professional networking is a job you resist passionately, you are not ready for a job search, and you may not be ready for a career change or advancement.
Professional networking is a job skill as well as a job search skill. It is all about making connections – long-lasting, mutually pragmatic connections. Everyone you know is inundated with news events, business matters, and personal problems. A job search requires you to find ways to make yourself stand out.
People do business better with people!
People are resources, references, and a revelation. They are a bank of experience, information, and opportunity you cannot ignore. Professional networking is not all about you; it is about the people in your life.
You will find them among your friends and family, in your faith or volunteer community, among your co-workers and former bosses, and more.
One surefire trick to networking is to give more than you take away. By reaching out to people when you are job searching – and even when you are not, you reinforce what you have and design your future.
Always think of ways in which you can add value to the life of someone you know:
1. Just out of the blue, forward an article of interest to someone in your professional universe.
2. Do not hesitate to refer someone you know for a job they may be suited for to an employer you know.
3. Invite someone you know out for coffee.
4. If you are going to a meeting or industry event, invite someone you know might also benefit from it to come along with you.
5. Take the initiative to introduce two people you know who would benefit from knowing each other.
6. If you’ve found a website that you believe would be of value to someone, send them a quick note via LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook with a link.
7. Sustain relationships by sending birthday and anniversary greetings to some friend or contact.
8. Offer to be a mentor to someone in need and/or ask someone to be your coach.
9. Have you read an interesting book? Send a review to people you know who you think might also enjoy it.
10. Have you heard some good news about someone? Make sure to call or send them a note of congratulations.
Because professional networking strengthens your personal brand, it increases your net worth. There is always value in doing enough to make your employer value you more while you re-brand yourself for something new. Start early in your career to add value to someone in your work life.