It has often been said that in today’s world, the only job security you have is your skill-set. While I agree with that statement, I also tell my executive candidates that job security also means keeping their professional network alive and well. That’s because the network is an information pipeline, it’s how people build relationships outside of work. It keeps you in touch with what is going on in a variety of industry sectors. It’s a clear route to competitive intelligence where you can learn about new opportunities.
Networking is also a simple strategy for building a professional and personal brand. It enables you to make others aware of who you are, what interests you and what you can do. With all of the social media tools available today, any professional can make themselves into a “hub” and/or link by connecting with others and building a strong following. You then become a “go-to” person when someone wants to be introduced to another of your network and/or when someone has a job opportunity to circulate.
Social media networking also gives candidates a very valuable new opportunity that personal face to face networking can’t do. That is the ability to share your ideas by writing, blogging and commenting on the issues of the day. Better yet, since most senior executives are good writers, they can use their social media network to share a repertoire of knowledge that in turn will create a reputation as a thought leader on a special topic. People will start asking for advice and job opportunities will start appearing.
Yet, unfortunately, once an executive candidate has secured their desired job, many get lost in their work and fail to keep up their network, be it face-to-face and/or through social media. While I admire someone who dedicates him/herself to doing good work for their employer, I always advise them that first and foremost, they need to look after their career. Just like in family budgeting, this is called paying yourself first.
By this I mean ensuring that your skill-set is always at its highest level. You can do this be attending conferences and/or taking executive level courses and/or by being a voracious reader. I also recommend reaching out to your industry sector and taking some sort of leadership role where you can enhance your professional visibility. This helps to build your profile and personal brand and it ensures you are on top of the issues of the day.
As well, I believe it is important to build a broader network outside of your industry sector. This can be accomplished by becoming a board member of a not-for-profit agency where you can meet different people from all walks of life. Again, look for a leadership role that will expand your visibility as well as your personal brand.
As I have already mentioned, it is critically important to keep your skills current and keep your network alive, but personal branding is also important to creating job security. After all, people want to deal with individuals they trust. Therefore, your brand becomes your signature, your identity and/or the voice that people will recognize.
All three strategies mentioned above are what I call “career security strategies”. They will make sure that should a job layoff occur, you are ready to quickly deal with the issue. You won’t have to reinvent yourself and you won’t have to struggle to reacquaint yourself with contacts you have had nothing to do with for years. You will have the confidence and a positive attitude but more than that, you will have a network of relationships and people who know what you are good at and what you can do. You’ll be surprised at how quickly new opportunities will come your way.