When is the best time to network?
When was the last time you dedicated serious effort into networking?
Maybe it was in college when you were focused on landing that all-important, first post-grad job in your chosen field. Maybe it was when you were in a previous job and wanted to line up your next role. Perhaps it’s when you needed to reach a sales goal.
While these are considered traditionally acceptable times to network, there’s something off about the timing – it was already too late.
Here’s the thing about networking: The best time to network is before you need it.
Think about it. Trying to forge meaningful connections and provide your contacts with value is difficult when you are in a time crunch and searching for employment yourself. It feels forced — which it probably is. The best connections — just like friendships and relationships — take time.
And you really want to align yourself with people who reflect your values, goals, and ambitions.
All of this is to say you should be networking now, whether you need it or not. Because you’ll never know who you can run into and what doors they can open for you. Plus, you should take time to maintain your current connections.
You should always be looking for new people to meet. Remember, 75% of networking is done before you show up to the event — that means taking the time to research who you want to meet, finding points of commonality, develop questions to ask, etc.
You might even be maintaining a network without even knowing it! Do you keep in touch with former coworkers or college classmates? Are you a part of an industry group? Do you attend continuing education classes in your line of work? All of these things help you create and maintain your network.
Building a network takes time, planning and effort. And the best time to do it is before you actually need it. Trust me, it’s worth the effort. When it’s time for you to shift into a new role, seek out sales leads or aim for another transition, your network will be ready.