The dictionary defines Community as a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars. The term Community is of late 14th century French origin and is described as fellowship, likeness or similarity in nature.
We have talked at length in the past about the need to network and continually grow your contact base for the present and future needs. We have described the fact that even during personal full employment that it is vital for all to continually be aware of the need to participate in professional and business groups so that you can expand your realm of influence. Finally, we have constantly described the importance of working one on one and getting to know people, but most importantly assisting others in their future plans and aspirations so that they can provide assistance for you in your future hours of need.
The problem that many in job search mode have is the lack of communication with business associates, friends and former colleagues. For whatever reason, once the immediate aura of change of employment status rubs off it becomes harder for some to make contact. Recently at a gathering of association execs I was asked how a certain contemporary was dealing with her unemployment status. Though I felt like saying, “Why don’t you call her up and ask her yourself?’ – I didn’t.
For whatever reason, friends and foes alike just are not comfortable making contact with people that are experiencing stressful and emotional events. Maybe it’s the old “By the grace of God not me” philosophy or it just could be that they just don’t know what to say, but for those in such a situation it is important to be kept in the loop.
For those who are independent contractors, work at home individuals or in transition, one of the most important aspects of life that they are missing is on-going communication with friends and peers. Though it may seem as a burden when you are one of many in an office, you just don’t know what you have until you lose it. The opportunity to try new ideas with others, keeping up with office politics or the simple act of socializing with fellow comrades are tasks that you cherish longingly when you are out on your own.
It is important for job seekers to participate in their professional community. Make sure you participate in group meetings and activities and if finances allow make sure you take advantage of all social events that in anyway can get you out of your doldrums and normal routine and provide you the opportunity to rub elbows with those who may not say it but do care about your present status.
Some helpful hints to expand your web of influence:
1) People may be too busy to answer your phone call, afterall they do have a day job but an e-mail works just fine. Keep them aware of your current status and potential next stops.
2) Make lunch or business appointments so that you can remind your network that you are still out and about and interested in your next assignment.
3) Be active in social media. Retweet appropriate articles and blog as often as possible so that you can expand and refine your personal brand. Make sure you continue to grow your friends and connections.
4) Attend professional events – be seen and have plenty of business cards available to share. People may not have a job for you but they may know of individuals who need assistance with a project that you can certainly provide a helping hand with.
5) You may need to prioritize but this hiatus in your career gives you the opportunity to join everything you always wanted to but didn’t have time for when you worked. This is a golden opportunity to give back to those who are in need but also extend your reach to contacts that may be able to assist you in your present journey. Remember, we are people who believe in volunteerism!
As the world gets even bigger and more diverse, it is important for us to find communities that we can participate in and gain from. Like any network, it is a process of giving and receiving – don’t expect to receive if you don’t give. We all benefit from working together, interacting with contemporaries and assisting when help is needed. I guess, that is why we are all part of the larger community of mankind.
Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career. He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious distinction of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives. He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 95 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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