The Power of Building Your Network – How I Lost My Job & Set Up 3 Interviews w/in 24 Hours

Image by Flickr user philcampbell

Five days ago, on Monday morning, I received an ominous invitation for a 4PM meeting that only stated, “Business Update.” My heart thudded to a stop. I’ve been laid off enough times in my past (an early legacy of working in startups) to know what that meeting was about. Especially since the departments at CA Technologies were changing around and we knew that 500 people were going to get the axe this quarter in order to boost the Q2 bottom line after several large cloud computing related purchases.

I was devastated. I put my heart and soul into my three and a half years of work there, building their entire social media program from scratch, fighting tooth and nail to create a cross-departmental group to execute programs and educate teams around the globe on why social media matters and how it can help build brand and grow their bottom line. And while I still don’t understand the company’s decision (and likely never will), I’m ok with that now.

Sometimes, on a personal level, I don’t practice what I preach in my social media classes (note the intermittent blog posts on this site). However, when it comes to my network I do everything I can to keep that in place.  You hear all the time how content is king, but I think that isn’t entirely true. Content becomes king when you have people who care enough to consume it. Which means you need to build your network.

But that’s not all. You also need to work your network and respond to it.

And I thank my lucky stars that I have done that over the last few years.

That night, still in a daze, I posted a note to my Facebook (494 friends, all of whom I mostly actually know or have a specific connection to) and to a small circle on Google+ (about 50 people). I didn’t feel up to letting the whole world know at that point, so I started with the people I knew.

I was overwhelmed by the response that I had from friends and my more remote connections. Some friends called every recruiter they knew to send them my way. Others started sending LinkedIn notes to their network and doing introductions to me. One great lead came from a high school friend who I haven’t seen in 20 years! By 4PM on Tuesday I had 6 recommends from colleagues on LinkedIn (up to 15 now!) for my work at CA. I also had at least 4-5 offers for small contract possibilities, people who wanted me to help them figure out social media. But best of all, I had over 4-5 possibilities lined up for full-time jobs including 3 calls that day, two of which led to scheduling in-person interviews.

All of this was BEFORE I had a chance to even touch my resume or search LinkedIn or Monster!

Why did this happen? I think for a few reasons:

  1. Hopefully much of it is because I’m good at my work and my reputation precedes me.
  2. Social media is a hot place to be right now and for that I feel fortunate. I know that others are in industries that are stagnant. I know how that feels…I have been laid off more times than I want to count in industries that weren’t hiring. Working as a temp really sucks when you are in between jobs. That said, while it gives me some leg up, what I’m talking about in this post has nothing to do with the type of industry you are in but the way you build your network.
  3. I keep my LinkedIn profile updated all the time. This enabled me to respond fast when I really needed to. I followed up with my updated resume later.
  4. I have a vast network of people that I have built up over the years. For me I have focused on quality not just quantity. The people I am interested in and the people I know. 494 people in Facebook. 639 in LinkedIn. With Twitter (4,567) and Google+ I expand that quite a bit to people I don’t know but am interested in.  Why don’t I care quite as much about the high numbers? Because this makes it easier for me to do number five…
  5. I interact with my network. I take time to respond to things people say, not just my close friends but those that are also far flung. That’s the beauty of social media. You can have hundreds of little touchpoints all over the place. Taking two minutes to say something on someone’s posts gives you a lot of karma (and I’m not talking Reddit karma!) with that person. I spoke with Pluser David Graziano about this today, about how it’s not enough to just have a network. You need to respond to people (he called me immediately after I left my # in a note) and create specific connections in order to be memorable.
  6.  This also means that I try and help people.
    1. When a recruiter calls me or writes me and I’m not interested, I help them by forwarding their information to my network. It helps the recruiter, it helps my friends and in the long run it has helped me 10x over.
    2. When a friend has a question, I try and respond. I also ask questions. For example today I posted to my Facebook and G+ (thank you Publish Sync!) about recommends on a Netbook and dozens have responded. I’ll remember those kindnesses and try to be helpful back some other time.
    3. I participate in conversations related to my field and my interests. Again, I answer questions, or post my own questions. I try to make myself memorable to the people that may be able to help me later.

Over and over the number one question I get from people when I’m teaching how to use social media is, “how can I have the time to do all this?”  And then I say, “Make time.” Give up an hour of junk TV and commit yourself. It doesn’t even need to be a lot of time.  20 minutes 2-3x a week to focus on responding to say, LinkedIn groups, your Twitter followers or touching base with your Facebook friends. It will serve you well in the long run (for jobs, for sales, for a million things), just as it is serving me well now. Build it up over time, a little here and a little there.

It’s been five days since I lost my job. Now I’m finally starting to branch out and actually look at job posts vs. responding to incoming inquiries. My network is really coming through for me (and I can’t even begin to thank all of the incredible people that have helped me out this week!) because I nurtured it. If you aren’t working the social media channels to build your own network I highly recommend you start. You never know when you may need to rely on the kindness of friends, family and strangers.

And if you are looking for someone to run your digital strategy, let me know!

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  • Connie Smallwood

    Really nice blog post, Crystal.

  • Marymor

    Wow!  Good for you, Crystal.  I know you will land — and land well!

    All the best, Mary