Networking with the Unemployed

Alisa BonsignoreIn a recent conversation with a CPA friend, I mentioned that I routinely have networking meetings with former colleagues who are now unemployed. She looked a little bit shocked. “And you count those as deductions?” she asked. “Oooh, the IRS isn’t going to like that.”

Why? To me, networking isn’t a “meet today, contract tomorrow” sort of game. It’s about fostering valuable long-term contacts with people who are in my industry. And while it’s true that Joe may not currently be with a target company, I’m confident that he will again one day.

For me, the unemployed are some of the best people to network with. First of all, they have the time to meet with you. It’s extremely nice to be able to have a leisurely conversation without the other person checking their watch or BlackBerry every two minutes.

Second, they have all of the product and market knowledge of an industry insider, but because they’re now in contact with a dozen other companies through interviews and their own networking, they also have all of the juicy information of a gossip columnist.

Third, they’re extremely grateful for the added insights that I can provide. When they land their next corporate job, that gratitude will likely work in my favor.

For me, they’re good contacts to have, and definitely worth the cost of buying their latte and scone.

Do you network with unemployed colleagues? Why or why not?

BTW: To find out how much networking you should be doing to keep your pipeline full, sign up here for the free webcast this Monday, November 1: Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan.

2 thoughts on “Networking with the Unemployed

  1. Saya

    Interesting topic! I don’t limit whom I network with, as you never know where opportunities lay. After six years of self-employment though, I do find myself limiting HOW I network.

    I get approached a few times a week with “Can you grab a drink?” or “Do you have time for coffee?” usually by people who want to pick my brain re. the fields I’m in [video, teaching, non-profit, event hosting] or about self-employment/entrepreneurship. While I’m cognizant of all the help I got when I started out, and do strive to repay all the support that flowed my way, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t have the time to say “yes” to everyone that wants to network. Plus, I need to make more money. So I concocted “Coffee.”

    The gist is that people who are interested in networking in an informal setting with a small group of people sign up to be on the “Coffee” list, and they’ll be notified of upcoming gatherings at local coffeehouses, where an hour-long discussion will be facilitated by me. I just made the service public two days ago, but stemming from the number of sign-ups, and the diversity of the sign-ups, I think it’ll be successful!