New Hampshire’s networking advantage

One of the great advantages of living and working in New Hampshire is that it can be a relatively close-knit community both socially and professionally. Our individual paths often cross one another’s. It’s not unusual to hear through our workplace networks how each of us is progressing or not.

The twists and turns, dips and rises of your career journey are on display, for better or worse, in this state than they might be in a more densely populated setting. This being the case, how we conduct our careers should be influenced by this openness.

If you’ve had a reasonably successful career, this level of exposure may help set the stage for future opportunities. More to the point, if you have been smart about establishing and maintaining valuable professional relationships, then you are better positioned for landing on your feet if a sudden work transition is forced upon you.

Layoffs are epidemic in New Hampshire right now, as they are elsewhere. The decreasing level of job security is resulting in growing uncertainty among workers across industries. Being prepared for how to react to a job termination is a wise move to make during these tough times. And a significant part of this preparation should involve an understanding of networking.

A two-way street

Networking accounts for anywhere from 75 percent to 95 percent of all open positions filled. Employers can often be reluctant to advertise for jobs, preferring instead to be notified of the passive job candidate, that is, a referral from a trusted source. Your task is to become referenced, tested and known by colleagues, both present and former, who can attest to your qualifications.

While still employed, you should not only be building relationships that will enhance your career, but achieving an expertise by which you become known. This makes it easier for your referral contacts to describe you in terms that make your value more readily apparent to potential future employers.

One inaccurate perception of networking is that it is all one way, that it consists only of others doing for you. If that were true, networking would just be another word for exploitation. Networking works best when it is reciprocal, when both parties are prepared to give to one another by leveraging common interests, enlisting each other’s support and sharing information, values, ideas, advice and, of course, referrals.

Approaching networking contacts by first reaching out to help them is a sound proposition. If you have already secured yourself as a colleague or contact who is quick to offer assistance to others, then it won’t seem disingenuous when you’re reaching out in hopes of getting some support coming back to you.

However, if your work style hasn’t been of the open and cooperative type, then quality networking will be more difficult to accomplish. Giving of yourself to others may not always have short-term benefit, but it can certainly set the stage for longer-term utility. Besides, like your mother told you, it’s a nice thing to do!

New Hampshire has the potential for being a network-rich environment. In many ways, this small pond makes it easier to become a big fish. The best way to strengthen yourself while employed, and to prepare for a time when you may suddenly not be, is to enhance the kind of employee you are. Networking should not just be a tactic deployed after a layoff, but rather a skill that you are developing all of the time. When done well, the personal and professional relationships you build will benefit you no matter what your employment status becomes. networking is not only practical, it’s enriching.

Bill Ryan, owner and operator of Ryan Career Services LLC in Concord, can be reached at 603-724-2289 or