After you’ve lost your job, the third step to take is the one you know is coming, and I’m sorry to beat you over the head with it, but it’s important.
Yes, it’s time to network.
This doesn’t have to be painful, and it doesn’t have to be immediate. Give yourself a little while to deal with the emotional aspects of losing your job. If you’re like me, you’ll be angry, depressed, down on yourself, and hopeful, by turns. Sometimes you’ll feel a couple of things at once, and sometimes you’ll just want to be distracted. Whatever you’re feeling, give yourself permission to feel it for a couple days before moving on.
When it’s time to move on, start by letting your existing network know that you’re looking for something new. Try to avoid mention of having been fired or leaving the previous place on bad terms—we don’t want to give you a reputation as troublesome or as a complainer. So try to keep things positive, at least in your conversations with your network. (Your friends and family can hear the inside scoop, so you do still get to vent!)
Start by deciding what you’re interested in next, and let your network know. Try something like, “Hi again Dana. So sorry to have been silent for so long! How are things going for you? I’d love to catch up over a virtual copy sometime soon. I also thought I’d let you know that I’m looking for new opportunities in XXXX, so I’d love it if you’d let me know if you hear anything!”
Once you’re reconnected, set up some virtual coffees or happy hours—most online platforms are free or have free options, and they’re all surprisingly easy to use. (If you have questions, someone on YouTube has almost certainly already answered them.) Be ready with what you want to ask your networks for, but remember not to ask directly for jobs. Instead, ask for things like advice, leads, and introductions. If it’s a new field for you, you can also ask for advice and resume tips. And when someone is particularly helpful, be sure to follow up with a note and a token of thanks, like a gift card to a local independent coffee shop or bakery. (I’m all about supporting small local businesses as we continue to deal with the pandemic.) This will also keep you front-of-mind as your network contacts see opportunities that could be a good fit for you, and it’s just a nice gesture in a time we can all use a little extra kindness.
Really, networking isn’t so awful when you do it this way.