Are you in need of “Networking Triage”?

M*A*S*H* was one of my favorite television shows from many years ago.  How could someone not love the antics of Hawkeye, Hot Lips and Trapper John among the many other interesting characters in this show?

One of the key actions that always took place in the hospital was to use triage to establish which patients needed immediate care versus those who could hold on a  little longer.  Triage is defined as follows:

(in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.

My assertion today is that many of us are in need of “Networking Triage”.  What would this mean?  I would use the following statements to determine just how urgent your networking assistance might be:

  1. You do not know the first 5 people you would call if you had an unexpected job loss
  2. You cannot remember you met with someone for the purpose of growing your network
  3. You are not active in any type of extracurricular or professional organization outside of work
  4. No one has contacted you for networking assistance in the last 2 weeks

I could certainly add other items to consider, but let’s look at why each of these would be reason to consider just how much you need to refocus on your networking practices.

Unexpected job loss is not something that just happens to others.  Organizations make changes every day and these changes have unexpected consequences, or “collateral damage” that is inflicted on the careers of others who had no idea a change was taking place. This only adds credence to the reasons you need to be active in networking daily, weekly and continually.  You never know when the next shot will be fired.

Meeting with others to learn more about them and to share about yourself is valuable in all circles of your life.  I cannot tell you how many times I wondered why I was meeting with someone, but when I finished our discussion I was so glad that we had spent time together.  Getting to know others is a good way to build your own confidence and it also helps others see how you can take an interest in them.

I wish I had a dollar for every job seeker who has told me they were too busy at work to get involved with anything outside of work.  This is like saying that you are too busy working to stop and eat a meal, go to the doctor or to sleep.  Networking is just as essential as sleeping, eating and taking care of your personal needs.  Never underestimate the value of a good networking conversation.

When others are not asking for your help, this is an indicator that you are not active enough to warrant them seeing you as a valued resource.  People reach out to others they see as connected and involved and when you don’t get those requests the message is loud and clear.  I often say that this silence can be deafening.

These four points should always be good reminders to you about the value of networking.  If you answer no to 2, 3 or 4 of these, your need for networking is chronic and you just might be on life support sooner than you think.

Avoid networking triage by staying in touch with others, getting involved in outside activities and helping others when they call.

The alternative will not be pleasant and could be harmful to your career.