How Proactive Networking Will Prepare You For The Inevitable

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Originally Published on

Years ago, someone said something to me that felt profound: The person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest or the hardest worker (although those are great qualities to have). The person who gets ahead is the one who remains alert to opportunity. Sometimes, those opportunities are internal to your organization. Usually, however, they are external.

When I interviewed Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet, for my podcast, Job Search Radio, Opton remarked that 70% his company’s members told him networking was the “criticalnetworking factor” in their job search — and those connections often began with someone they didn’t know previously.

If you are like most employees, you have been keeping your head buried in your work. You are focused on doing your job well. Maybe you are taking a course or two toward a better degree or certification. You are placing your effort on working your way up the ladder at your current firm rather than doing the one thing that will be most helpful to you when the next layoff or recession occurs: networking proactively.

Most people start networking once engaged (or reengaged) in a job search. Is it any wonder that people don’t respond to messages from former colleagues or friends whom they haven’t heard from in years? They know the intention of the contact is to “network” or “pick their brain.” As Marlon Brando said in his role as Don Corleone in The Godfather, “We’ve known each other many years, but this is the first time you ever came to me for counsel or for help. I can’t remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee.” Networking under these circumstances is a one-way request (you wanting help) where you are asking for a favor of someone.

So, how can you network effectively in the least amount of time given how busy you are?

1. Give more to get more. 

No one likes a taker who is only asking for others to give to them. Offer support, and follow up when asked for support.

2. Don’t just connect. 

I am LinkedIn member 7653. Of my more than 22,000+ first-level connections, 20,000 reached out to me and never followed up. What benefit is either of us receiving? I know that as I approach the 30,000-connection limit LinkedIn imposes, some of my connections will be replaced.

3. Use your phone. 

Email and texting are better than nothing. Messaging on LinkedIn and Facebook works, too. Phone calls are best, though, because people respond better to hearing someone’s voice than imagining their voice in a text or email. On your commute home, call one person and stay in touch: “Hi! It seems like a hundred years since we last spoke, so I thought I would give you a call and see how you are.” That’s a great conversation starter or voicemail message.

4. Actually use LinkedIn as it was intended. 

Connect with people you know professionally and personally: friends, colleagues, former colleagues. It is a way that you can make sure you have current email addresses and phone numbers for them. Stay connected.

The fact of the matter is we are going to have another recession.

No one knows when, but one is inevitable. Nurturing your network proactively means that you and they can stay in contact. After all, you don’t know who will be in a position to help — or need your help — when the next downturn occurs.

In the last big one, millions of people lost their jobs and hope was dashed to pieces for many worldwide. Being in the position to activate your network will offer you hope and opportunities for landing on your feet faster than if you were all out of work trying to cobble together support.

Now is the time to proactively build your network so it is ready when you need it.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2400 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? People hire me to provide No BS career advice whether that is about a job search, hiring better, leadership, management or support with a workplace issue. Schedule a discovery call at my website, 

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