I’ve been in my job for over 20 years, and I just got laid off. I’m looking for a new job, and I know that networking is the way to go, but how do I start?

Losing a job is a very stressful event, considered one of the top ten most stressful events that can happen to a person. But it’s not the end of the world, and you will get through these trying times. The start is always the hardest part. First, you need to put together a very good resume. This will not only be your calling card, but it will also help you remember what you have accomplished in the last 20 years. (Make sure you list your accomplishments on your resume!) You’ve probably worked with a lot of different people in your career, some of whom you have kept in touch with, and others who you have not. Write all the names down of both groups, including those who you used to work for, and those who used to work for you. This is your initial list of those with whom you can network. Call, write, Link-in to all of them. Tell them your situation and that you are looking for a new job. There is no need to be embarrassed. Things happen in life and in business. Being laid off happens to a lot of very good people. Find out what’s going on in the industry, and where there are possible opportunities for you. Ask each person if they can recommend anyone else you should speak to regarding job openings. Dig for information. Networking is how 80% of the open positions are filled. Yes, recruiters can help, as can answering ads, but there is nothing more successful than contacting those who know you and respect your work. People hire people who they know or is recommended by someone they know.  Networking takes time and effort, so make it your full-time job. It will pay off, and by doing so, you’ll have an even better shot at finding something that will a good culture fit as well as career fit for you in the long run.

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