Dude, Who Moved My Network?

Posted August 20, 2009 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights, Networking

Fast-tracking workaholic leaders beware… one of the most crucial tools you have in your leadership toolkit is your external network.  In today’s free agent economy, your external network is one of your best career insurance policies.  I don’t think anyone is still under the false assumption that companies are in business to look after your career for life, but just in case you are… here’s the newsflash: jobs for life are over and – whether you work for a great company who invests in your development or not – your career is up to YOU.

Recently, I’ve had lots of conversations with leaders who have been startled by the realization that their external networks have disappeared.  They spent their twenties building their track record, got promoted up the ladder, took on more responsibilities in their thirties and then one day woke up to realize that all their connections are internal.  AGH!

This seems to be especially prevalent in leaders who started their families in their 30’s.  With big responsibilities on the workfront and homefront, any pre or post work networking activities get shelved.

And then, one day it happens… you find yourself in a role that is a little less satisfying than you expected and changes are happening in your organization that you’re not that enthralled with and you start thinking about making a move, when it hits you… who ya gonna call???

Keeping an external network vibrant is a must-do for anyone serious about being in control of their own career destiny.  Here are some ways you can do it and drive your career at the same time:

  1. Get on a not-for-profit board… great networking, great leadership training plus you’ll boost your network.  Look at causes that you believe in and check out the make up of the Board to see if they hold contacts worth making.  Check out BoardMatch for helping finding the right organization for you.
  2. Get involved in your industry association… industry associations not only provide great networking opportunities but also opportunities to keep your skills sharp.  The best way to get the most out of your association membership is to volunteer on a committee and get to know the staff and key volunteers.
  3. Combine family time networking… volunteering to coach soccer, lead the brownie pack or organizing fundraising drives for the parent council are all great ways to connect with other working parents and extend your network.
  4. Join a professional association… The Executive Roundtable, the Young President’s AssociationJunior Chamber International (JCI) and other groups can provide you with connections, learning and the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals.  Be sure to find out what the goals of the organization are and how they fit with your own career and networking objectives.

 Building and maintaining your network is a crucial in today’s world of work.  Don’t find yourself wondering who moved yours.  The time to build your external network is before you need it.

Happy leading!

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