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Posted July 04, 2008 by

Grow your network in three easy steps

By Nimish Thakkar
Networking is a powerful tool that can catapult even ordinary careers to extraordinary heights. From entry level employees to business owners to politicians, individuals at all levels have leveraged networking to achieve their professional aspirations.
Despite its proven effectiveness, many fail to exploit “people power”, mostly due to self-imposed, often myopic, misconceptions. I have come across myths ranging from “I am not a very people person” to “I don’t know a lot of people”.
In this article, I will show you how you can grow your network in three easy steps.
1. Snowball your network
Not too long ago, an insurance agent called me. He started the conversation as follows: “Hi Nimish, XYZ asked me to get in touch with you because she thought you would be interested in speaking with me.” From his tone, I could tell–as most of us can–that he was a telemarketer and my first instinct was to run, but since he had mentioned my colleague’s name, I allowed him to continue.
At the end of the conversation, he asked me if I knew someone who could benefit from a similar discussion (I would prefer to call it a monologue). Even though I wasn’t interested in his services, I knew some people who were actively looking for insurance products. Serendipity? I don’t know.
The agent had utilized what I prefer to call “the snowball technique”. Many of us may never need to sell insurance but the principle of snowballing can be applied to our networking efforts as well.
If we make a conscious effort to ask everyone in our contact list to introduce us to a few of their contacts–we must be prepared to reciprocate if necessary–and if we were to ask each of those contacts to introduce us to a few more (and repeat the same process over and over), within a few months our network could easily grow to hundreds if not thousands of contacts. How you use them is entirely up to you.
2. Network with the well-networked
Connecting with the well-connected is a very powerful strategy. Industry leaders, authors, experts, speakers–these individuals have a following of their own and connecting with just a few of these could enable you to tap into a pool of thousands of potential networking contacts.
3. Read and write
Of course, I know you can read and write. I am referring to professional literature. When you read professional literature or write for trade journals, academic publications, magazines, blogs, and other publishing avenues, you will get solid exposure to a large pool of readers. Writing is not just a PR exercise. Every reader is a potential networking contact.
If you are a voracious reader, consider writing short e-mails or letters appreciating the work of authors who caught your attention. If done consistently, these short exchanges could be precursors to some very interesting networking opportunities.
Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after career management coach and professional resume writer. He has helped thousands of clients through his sites, ResumeCorner.com and SaiCareers.com. Thakkar holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Career Coach Academy. Nimish can be reached at nimish@resumecorner.com

Posted July 03, 2008 by

How to Manage your Career During an Economic Downturn

How to manage your career during an economic downturn
By Nimish Thakkar
The economy is reeling under the pressures of a downturn. Unemployment rates are staggering and layoffs are at an all-time high. The current economic climate calls for a robust career management plan, one that will, despite the recession-like conditions, catapult your career to new heights.
Consider the following tips:
Take stock
Evaluate your professional standing and key trends within your industry, company, and profession. What do you need to change? How can you do it? How does your profession look five years from now? Two years from now? What threats do you foresee? What opportunities exist?
Based on your analysis, develop a comprehensive action plan that will help you leverage your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.
Network aggressively
Networking is not a post-layoff or when-you-feel-like-doing-it activity. All successful professionals incorporate networking as an integral and active component of their career management plan. Tradeshows, conferences, industry and social events, online networking tools–networking opportunities have never been so easily accessible.
Position yourself
What is your value proposition? What is so unique about you that employers will want to retain you irrespective of what happens to the company financially? We all have something unique to offer and if you can develop a powerful value proposition demonstrating how indispensable you are, you will be in a much better position that most professionals.
Invest in professional development
This is the Information Age, an environment in which information becomes obsolete faster than fashion. Through continuing education programs and other professional development efforts, it is very important to stay abreast with the cutting-edge of your profession.
Demonstrate leadership and the ability to take on challenges
The economy inevitably imposes financial strains on any company and under such conditions every employee is expected to do more–take more work, manage multiple tasks, lead projects, and epitomize “cross-functional” in every sense of the term.
Try to volunteer on projects and take on leadership roles. The key is to demonstrate how you can contribute toward the organization’s success and deliver an optimal ROI for the company.
Update your resume
Update your resume every month, if not every week. Highlight your recent accomplishments and create a powerful document that will position you as the perfect solution for any employer’s needs.
Keep your options open
With all the above strategies, keep your eyes open to new opportunities. Through a portfolio of job search strategies, including networking, you should generate a steady stream of job leads.
Effective career management is an ongoing effort. Once employers recognize how valuable you are, recession or growth, they will do everything they can to retain you.
Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after career management coach and professional resume writer. He has helped thousands of clients through his Resume Writing Service and Free Career Information site. Thakkar holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Career Coach Academy. Nimish can be reached at nimish@resumecorner.com