Today’s question comes from Marcy who writes,
“I’m getting ready to re-enter the workforce after having stayed home with young children for their elementary school years. I’m worried that I’m too far out of touch with business today to effectively network my way back into corporate life. What advice do you have?”
Marcy, welcome back! I know it can feel daunting to jump back into a professional role after time’s gone by, but the good news that I have for you and for anyone who is interested in jumpstarting his/her networking efforts is that the best time to get back to business is to START RIGHT NOW! Here are some simple tips to get you on your way…
- Create a list of people you know. Whoa! I know you know thousands of people – that’s great! But, I want you to start smaller than that. Start with five people who you know who are in professional roles that are interesting to you. Maybe it’s the parent of one of your children’s friends. Maybe it’s a neighbor. Maybe it’s somebody who you see at the gym. Identify just a few individuals and find their contact information.
- Create a list of people you don’t know, but who you would like to know. This list may be slightly more challenging to establish than list #1 because you may not know who you don’t know! Chances are that you could come up with three to five names of people who you have heard of, perhaps someone who you heard speak once at an event, maybe somebody you read about in the paper. If you don’t have contact information for them, ask the people on list #1 if they do!
- Reach out. One or two at a time, starting at the top of your lists, reach out to the people you wrote down to connect with and ask them to meet for a cup of coffee or visit with you for a 10-minute informational call. The idea is to ask them about their career journeys… how did they get involved in their current role or company? What do they like about their position? What would they change if they could?
- Meet. Find a mutually convenient date, time and location – in fact, when you reach out, I suggest that you recommend a date, time and location to get the ball rolling. If it doesn’t work, he/she will suggest alternatives.
- Repeat! My guess is that through your interactions, you will establish and enhance relationships, build-up your confidence, and travel down roads you didn’t even know existed.
Have you been in a situation where you re-entered the workforce or needed to amp-up your networking? What worked for you? What would you avoid in the future? Please take a moment to comment at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com.