Your professional network may be just as valuable a job hunting tool as your resume, but if you haven’t kept it up to date and you’re not in touch with the people you’re closest to, now’s the time to reach out. Use the “Layoff Test” to beef up your professional network and strengthen those bonds now, when you don’t need anything from them but their friendship.
Here’s the test: If you were laid off today, who would be the first 10 people you’d reach out to for advice, or to catch up with? When is the last time you spoke with them? If you can’t even list 10 people, much less remember the last time you caught up with some of the people you would normally call references, it’s time to start reaching out now, while you’re comfortably employed and don’t need anything in particular.
Ask them out to lunch to catch up, or see if they can grab coffee with you sometime, just to see how they’re doing, discuss your respective careers, and see if they need anything from you. Remember, a “professional network” is really just career code for “friends willing to help each other professionally,” so stay in touch and see if you can lend them a hand as well. After all, what goes around comes around.
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Photo by Warren Goldswain.