"The Web We Weave"

The Importance of Rebuilding Our Networks

By Tiffani Murray

IT Consultant, Event Coordinator - Atlanta, GA

On a spring morning a young professional steps from her porch

and out into the morning fog. She narrowly misses destroying the web of a

spider hanging precariously between two trees on the path to the

driveway. Looking up in awe at the spider’s creation she shifts her laptop

bag to the opposite shoulder and makes her way to the car. The spider

breathes a sigh of relief at the near mishap. He has taken all night to spin

the web just the right way considering every vital strand that makes it

strong and seemingly secure. Over the course of the day the wind gusts

and the trees move tearing at the spider’s carefully placed lines. Trying to

stay positive, the spider moves inward concentrating on the remaining

portion of his network. However, by the end of the day, after the rain, a

passing bird, a misfired soccer ball, and the postal worker’s umbrella the

spider will find himself hanging by a thread. At dusk the homeowner

returns from a hard day at work during the worse economic downturn in 10

years and sees the web gone. She hardly gives it a second thought as she

has just watched 3 close coworkers asked to leave the company pack, up

their belongings and turn in their computers. Their names are merely

additions to a growing list of friends and acquaintances across different

industries and companies who have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

The next morning, like clockwork, the businesswoman emerges

from the door yet again. As she clears the stairs and steps between the

trees she sees the spider perched on a new web, with a different pattern,

but just as astounding and beautiful as the one the day before. She

pauses and realizes that the spider must rebuild its web almost everyday

due to the damage it endures. She smiles at the display of nature’s obvious

answer to a problem a growing number of professionals are facing in the

work environment.

Many businessmen and women understand the importance of

building a network, but are they just as concerned with rebuilding that

network when their companies downsize, merge, layoff, or counsel out?

Like the spider the most adept corporate employees will continue to spin

the web of a personal and professional network through the upturns and

the downturns of the market. Many articles and guides focus on those

among the working class who face the layoffs and are forced to search for

new jobs. It is vital to consider the people who are left behind to wonder

how they avoided that dreaded phone call from human resources. In all

honesty, the task of redefining yourself amongst peers who you rarely

interacted with before your colleagues were given the boot, can be just as

daunting as starting a new job.

The first step is to remain optimistic and outgoing. There are

probably a number of people that can presently attest to losing an entire

network of peers, executive level coworkers and staff in the course of

several months. What do you do when that happens? If you desire to stay

with your current employer for the long haul you will find that keeping a

positive outlook will save yourself from succumbing to the fear that “you no

longer have anyone on your team.” Remember that just like you other

people in your workplace have lost mentors, partners, and teammates.

Reach out to them. Many of us only consider the inner network of the

people we exchange email and voicemail with on a daily basis as important

and approachable. However, there are those who make up an outer

network: friends and associates of those with whom you are closest. If

your mentor is caught in a reduction in force, reach out to his mentor. It is

likely you share some common ground even if it is just that both of you

were inspired or intrigued by the same individuals work and commitment.

When you feel like your internal connections are deteriorating within

your own company it is important to realize that now you have networks

that cross into other job markets. Unemployment, in most cases, is

temporary. At some point everyone will find employment, more than likely

in a different company or location and in a higher position or newly defined

role. These types of connections give you an edge should you come to a

point where you want to change jobs yourself and especially if you become

caught in the crosshairs of the next round of layoffs. Recognizing the

benefits of an expanded network will make you feel more confident overall

about your other opportunities in the job market.

It is essential to remember that patience is important when

considering the fragile nature of ones ever changing career network. It is

important to remain diligent at the task of rebuilding and reforming those

networks as external forces come into play. Like the spider we must build

again each time we find ourselves hanging by a thread. It is in this way

that we can remain on the cutting edge of our business relationships,

cognizant of both the fresh faces and the old ones, while actively keeping

our network from vanishing into thin air permanently.