Mark Twain said, “When you need a friend, it’s too late to make one.” The quote is often applicable to business networking and the adverse effect of allowing your contacts to run cold. By the time rumors of layoffs start circulating it could be too late to preserve your position. This is especially true if you’re an average performer, with a limited network, and lack of work advocates.
But let’s look on the bright side. Assuming this is a business-based restructuring (i.e. your job’s not in jeopardy because you hit on the COE’s wife/husband at the company Christmas party.) then your goal should be to demonstrate why you are more valuable than other employees who hold the same position. To cast yourself in the best possible light consider these actions:
- Gently Self-Promote: If you have a good relationship with your manager, casually remind him/her about your recent accomplishments and then ask if there is more you can do to lighten his/her load. Be careful with this one. If you’ve never volunteered before it could come off as brown nosing…and no one likes that.
- Reach Beyond Your Department: Get involved in projects outside your area. This will not only broaden your resume if things go south, it can increase your list of supporters.
- Ask for the Real Story: Rumors are rarely productive. Requesting a skip level meeting with your manager’s boss or department head could provide some insight as to what is really going on. Usually there are limits to what they can say, but requesting the meeting paints you as a strategic thinker who is interested in the long-term health of the company. Anything you can do to get involved in change communication can also help.
- Ask HR: They’ll know if layoffs are likely. Again, information may be restricted, but these folks are involved so getting a reputation as an informed employee who wants to help the company can’t hurt.
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