More layoffs are in the works at my bank and, to protect myself, I really should be scouting around for another job. But there's been more and more work piled on me, and simply don't have the time to get out and network. What can I do?
- Pressed for Time Dear Pressed:
The answer is simple: You just have to find the time to do it.
It can be done. As Anita Lands, a career counselor who works with bankers, says, "If your tooth falls out, no matter how busy you are you will make time to go to the dentist."
The real question may be: Are you avoiding something you just don't like to do?
"People sometimes kid themselves about their indispensability and importance," says Brian A. Schwartz, a New York career management consultant. What you may really have to deal with is your own ambivalence about marketing yourself.
This means changing your attitude toward networking, as well as brushing up on time-management skills.
If you feel guilty about using company time to network, keep this in mind: The anxiety you feel over possible layoffs may actually make you less efficient and take more energy than networking would.
Meetings Can Be Productive
Getting out and meeting with colleagues can help you find new solutions to problems on your present job, so it is not necessarily counter to the goals of the company you work for now.
A first step to weave networking into your day is to study last week's calendar. Carrer counselor Nella Barkley suggests looking for activities you didn't like and didn't really have to do. What work could you have given to a colleague? What could have been left undone?
"The key," she says, "is not so much finding the time as using it productively."
Remember Your Aims
Have a clear goal in mind when you meet with people or attend industry events. Otherwise, you don't accomplish much and you become disaffected with the process. And this, she says, fuels the excuse of: I don't have enough time.
Work smart, not just hard, and stay focused, says Eunice Salton, marketing vice president with the New York Institute of Finance. And make networking part of your routine. "You may never like it, but then again, it may not be half as bad as you thought," she says.
Another opportunity, says Dorene Horowitz, a vice president with National Westminster Bank, are the hours before and after work.
Early Bird Special
Ms. Horowitz, a former consultant who networked her way back into the corporate world, says the best time to grab a few moments with other busy colleagues is 7:30 in the morning.
People do juggle their activities, says Ms. Horowitz, who networks now to develop new business for the bank. But it's definitely harder when you're job-hunting because your ego is on the line. You have to depersonalize it, she says.
You may have to push yourself to sign up for industry activities. And, if you find trade associations sponsoring activities at times and places that are inconvenient, let the meeting planners know, so they can come up with alternatives.
You might even volunteer a coference room on your own premises, so you can save travel time. But be prepared to have an assistant standing by to help set up for the event.
And, add to your summer reading list a book - or book on tape - on time management. Try the updated version of "How to Gain an Extra Hour Every Day," by Ray Josephs. He says to forget about big, hour-saving ideas and look for 25-minute timesavers.