In good times and bad, building and sustaining a vital network of professional contacts is one the most important keys to effective career management.  A robust network will minimize the negative effects of the inevitable setbacks that occur.

For an executive looking for the next promotion or the manager who has lost his or her job, a robust professional network is much more likely to produce that promotion or the security of a new full-time job than a recruiter.  While search consultants enjoy the power and attention of ambitious or anxious job seekers, the truth is that only about 30-35 percent of all executive positions are filled by recruiters.  The balance is handled internally.  If there was ever a reason for taking the time – having the discipline – to build and nurture a quality professional network, this is it.

Houston-based business development consultant Wayne O’Neill describes developing and using a professional network as “connecting the dots.”  He is spot on.

The problem is that out of work executives tend to confuse sending out dozens upon dozens of resumes as being appropriately aggressive.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The smart career brand managers look for connections in their network and then attempt to leverage those contacts to secure introductions with targeted companies.  “Knowing someone who knows someone” is a far better bet than a scattershot approach of sending resumes to every job posted on numerous job boards.  In fact this resume blasting approach tends to hurt far more than it helps.

This is where another of the elements of career brand management comes into play: discipline, that hallmark of effective career brand management.  Panic almost always overwhelms discipline.  There is a definite correlation between those who panic and those who did not take the time to invest in a professional network.  In other words, those who have the discipline to build a useful network typically find a better paying job faster than those who don’t.

The list of excuses for not having a professional network is as long as the unemployment lines.  When it comes to career management, discipline is not such a bad thing.

© 2012 John Gregory Self