Fired in Real Time: Networking When Not Working

Image: Bob RosnerWe all know that networking is the answer, no matter what the question.

But networking isn’t making new friends on the bus. It’s connecting and re-connecting with people from your past who can vouch for what you can bring to an organization. Who can open doors for you, and would be willing to speak up on your behalf.

It sounds so easy. But trying to come up with the energy and a reason for people to meet with you is work. Hard work. But let me break it down for you.

Step one. Get your head in gear. People don’t want to meet with someone who is trailing blood into their office. You’ve got to get your swagger back. Or your sense of humor. Or your confidence. Whatever was the hallmark of you when you were working, needs to be cultivated now. This isn’t easy when you’ve been fired or let go. A.K.A. tossed under the bus. That’s why it takes thought, work and energy to get your “A” game back.

Step two. Think about where you’re going. There is a tendency to sprint after whatever moves after you’ve been laid off. That is a dangerous path, because your enthusiasm for pursuing a McJob will trail off. That’s why I’d always suggest something that you can be passionate about. At least then you’ll have the energy and commitment to pursue it with all your heart and soul.

Step three. Think about who you know. Sure Linkedin and Facebook suddenly surface lots of people from your past. Too many. So you’ve got to think about where you’re going and who might be able to help you to get there.

Step four. Contact them. Remember, you want to not come in as a desperate beggar, even when that’s exactly what you’re feeling like. No, you’ve got to put on your game face and convince them that you’re ready to hit the ground running. Even if you actually feel like you’re closer to hitting the ground after jumping from a six story building.

Step five. Ask for help. Yes, I did say that you want to be confident. But you also need to let people know that you need their help. To push them a bit.

One caveat. Some of your friends will let you down. Big time.

But the key thing to remember is that other friends will really have your back. My experience is that you’ll always be energized by more people than depressed. But some really key people will disappoint you. You just can’t let it drag you down.

Networking is the answer, but not when you use it like a shotgun. No this needs to be a rifle. A very carefully aimed rifle.

My a-ha: Let your friends help you.

Next Installment: From fired to CEO

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.