It's hard to make career plans right now.
Layoffs are sweeping tech and other industries; some economists say a US recession is looming; many employees are struggling with return-to-office mandates.
When your professional future is uncertain, it can be especially useful to start networking (or ramp up your current efforts). Your network "is your No. 1 asset as a professional over the course of your career," said Blair Heitmann, an in-house career expert at LinkedIn. "You need to proactively tend to that network," Heitmann added, so that when you need a favor, you won't have to scramble to find help.
Before you begin reaching out to others, it's important to make sure that your own LinkedIn profile is ready to impress, complete with a customized URL, photo, headline, and profile summary.
Heitmann shared a simple template for networking effectively. Most importantly, you'll want to be forthright about how the recipient can help you.
Here's Heitmann's script:
Dear [recipient's name],
I hope this note finds you well. How are you? [Insert a personal anecdote about how you know each other or when you saw each other last.]
I am currently thinking about my next career move and hoping you have a few minutes to chat over the next few weeks. I'd love to catch up and also hear about your advice and experience working at [recipient's company] in [recipient's job title] and within [recipient's industry].
I know how busy you are and would so appreciate just a few minutes of your time, whenever it is most convenient for you.
Thank you in advance for considering and I look forward to hearing from you.
You can also use this time to expand your network, said LinkedIn career expert Drew McCaskill. For example, you might connect with colleagues, mentors, and former professors. "These are the people who likely know you best and can speak to your work ethic," McCaskill said. "Every connection has the potential to impact your professional journey positively." You may even be able to help them in their job search — as McCaskill said, "Networking is a two-way street!"
If you've been working with a headhunter, Kim Hoffman, a talent-acquisition director at Intuit, previously shared with Business Insider some guidelines for following up with recruiters about job offers during a recession. Hoffman said job candidates should mention that they understand the recruiter's timelines may have shifted and explain that they're checking in to see if there's anything else the recruiter needs from them.
Also, remember: People like being asked for advice. Research suggests that it makes them feel like they're on your side and makes you seem smart. Stephanie Brown, the author of "Fired: Why Losing Your Job Is The Best Thing That Can Happen To You," wrote for Business Insider that she was able to land a series of networking meetings by including the same sentence in every message: "I would love your advice on what you think I should do next."
It never hurts to ask for guidance — and usually, it helps.