Sunday, October 20, 2013

Internal Networking - Job Security Insurance

"How do I avoid another lay-off in my career?"

You've got the job!  How do you protect it?  With internal networking!

Job seekers who have been through a lay off, worked hard at their job search, and found their next job often ask this question: 

Question:  How do I prevent this from ever happening to me again?

The short answer:  You can't.

The long answer:  Short of setting up your own company and hiring yourself, there is nothing that you can do to prevent yourself from being laid off or fired.  You just don't control that decision.  People higher up the food chain do.

However, that doesn't mean that there is nothing you can do to up your odds of being kept employed if lay-offs occur.  The way to protect yourself from being laid off is through what I call Internal Networking.

Internal Networking- Ups Your Odds
Internal Networking simply means taking the same networking skills that you used to find your new position and applying them inside the company that hired you.  Use those now well-honed skills to build an internal network of contacts not only within your immediate work area, or department, but across multiple departments, divisions, and headquarters. 

Your goal with internal networking is to be known by lots of people. 
If, and more likely when, layoffs occur down the road, your goal is for the powers-that-be (generally head of HR, department heads, General Manager, and CEO) that review the finalized list of employees to be laid off to say, should your name be on the list:  "Oh no -  not Stan. " or "Not Sue."  "Find someone else- we've got to keep Stan."

Internal Networking simply means 
taking the same networking skills that you used to find your new position
 and applying them inside the company that hired you.

Strategy to avoid being on the list:  Get known
The strategy is simple:  Get known.  But executing it will take work and being really aware of opportunities that present themselves to get known.  How can you do this?

First, what do we mean by get known?" 
It does not mean:  This doesn't mean being known for anything superfluous, supercilious, or unflattering.  It doesn't mean having your name called out at the "Annual Awards" meeting - although that doesn't hurt.  And . . . . .it certainly does not mean being known for antics shown up on Face book, Twitter, You Tube, or other social media.

It does mean:  It means being known as a contributor and producer that other employees, from the lowest level to the highest level, have had positive experience with you, rolling up their sleeves and working elbow-to-elbow with you on projects important to the company.  As you get known in this way, you are building your Internal Network
Here are some examples: 
  • Join a cross functional team.  -  The General Manager puts out a call for a volunteer from each department to serve on a cross functional team to evaluate and make recommendations to change the organizational culture of the division.
  • Offer input to R&D - The Director of R&D wants to evaluate how R&D selects initiatives and streamline the process from conception to delivery.  She requests input from affected departments.
  • Go and work on an assignment in headquarters - The CEO decides sales opportunities are missed by field engineers who work shoulder to shoulder with the customer.  He requests participants to work with him and the head of sales and marketing, on a 4-week project in headquarters, to design a sales training program to assist the field engineers to recognize sales opportunities and to inform, or subtly "sell," the customer on additional service or work the firm can provide.
  • Participate in the company charity - If the firm sponsors a charity or charity function, take an active role in contributing your time, effort, and energy to the success of the drive.  
  • Write an article - Write a column or article, with by-line, for your company newsletter. Better yet, serve on the newsletter team and be a regular contributor.
In summary - These examples, taken from real life projects, illustrate what is meant by "get known."  It is not enough for everyone to simply know your name.  Your goal is for them to know your name as a person who is valuable to the company.  They believe the firm is better off with you than without you. 

And, if your name should show up on the "lay off" list, one of these members of your Internal Network, among the powers that be, will say:  "Oh not, not Alice.  Find someone else- we've got to keep Alice!"

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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