In 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.