Recently I spoke with a woman who has been looking for work for some time. She devotes a significant amount of time each week to networking activities. She said something that stood out to me: “I wake up every day and think about being unemployed, but my contacts don’t think about me until I remind them”.
Remind your contacts that you’re looking
All too often, those who are looking for work feel embarrassed to repeatedly go to their contacts and mention that they aren’t working. Because of this, one of the key components of networking with people you already know is talking with them about subjects outside of work. Invite them to coffee and talk to them about their kids. Have people who are well connected over for a cookout; this allows your contacts an opportunity to help you out but keeps your relationship on the equal footing upon which it was founded.
Be prepared when people ask about your job search
If you think about it, there are a lot of people in your life who may not really understand what you do. My own parents are a perfect example! Because you want your contacts to think strategically about how their network can help you, it’s really important to have a quick summary of your career goals (aka your elevator pitch) ready to go when they ask. Keeping it short and sweet not only keeps their attention but helps them to remember what you said two weeks later when they run into a perfect contact for you.
Keep yourself busy in the meantime
It’s truly difficult to feel equal to your peers who are working when you are not. After all, your daily lives are substantially different—they get dressed and go to work every day. One way to mitigate feeling like the odd man out is to keep yourself as busy as possible. Whether you fill your time with volunteer work, continuing education, networking, or all of the above, staying busy keeps you emotionally fulfilled and interesting—which makes your contacts want to be around you and help you out.
As long as you have a clear career goal and keep yourself busy working toward it, there’s no reason to be embarrassed about reminding your network that you’re still job searching. As my colleague said, they’re not thinking about you unless you remind them!