Your Entourage: 5 Ways to Keep Your Network Active in Good, Busy, and Bad Times

November 26, 2013

By:
Affiliated Programs: 
Essential Management Skills

By Donna C. Coulson, M.S., Professional Certified Coach

For nine years, I coached a Human Resources Transition group for my Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) chapter. We provided job leads and inspiration to help our unemployed peers land new jobs in their field. I’m amazed at how some ended their networking contacts when they began a new job—they’re too busy. Meanwhile, others sustained their networks and added new peers to their life-long “entourage.”  Today, odds are high you’ll seek work again.  Will you start networking from scratch? Or do you start with a current network of trusted colleagues?

“Entourage” is a term coined by Leslie Grossman in the November, 2013 HR magazine published by SHRM (“Why You Need an Entourage. Create a master plan for building long-lasting business connections,” pp 70-71).  Grossman notes, “An entourage is different from a network in that it is building on TRUSTED relationships among people who can count on one another to lend advice, support, and introductions on a LONG-TERM basis (Capitalization for emphasis, courtesy of Donna Coulson . Once trust is built through in-person communication, members of your entourage will bring their chain of trusted associates to you, just as you will do for them.” How many professionals are in your entourage now? This is critical for your career success as leaders hire who they know—or who are recommended by people they know and trust.  You want to be on this person’s A-list, don’t you?!

Rutgers alum Keith Bogen founded the HR Whine and Dine Network (www.whineanddine.org) with 25 chapters nationwide. His first location was—and still is--in Edison, NJ.  Keith’s methodology is to establish social media groups using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo. He feeds the groups with massive information—not just job leads—but also business intelligence. “People know my name as I continuously provide information to help them be successful:  how to navigate business challenges, find the right people for the right solutions, and identify new job opportunities,” he says. Keith also calls at least one person a day and he e-mails 5 to 10 people daily.

Adds Terry Seamon, another Rutgers alum and experienced transitioner who started the St. Matthias Employment Ministry Network in Somerset, NJ: “Job search expert Michael Goldberg says to practice your A-B-C’s:  Always Be Connecting. The key word is ALWAYS, even after you land.” Terry also cites career expert Martin Latman who notes we’re always in transition. “Your network isn’t something you can just turn on and off like a light switch. Keep it on, you never know what the next day or week will bring.”

How can you keep your network current? Here are 5 ways:

  1. Identify your entourage of trusted associates and look for gaps.
  2. Stay in touch with your entourage—wish them Happy Birthday, Happy Thanksgiving, or congratulate them on a new assignment.
  3. Keep your profile up-to-date in LinkedIn, a business online network. Adjust your settings so notes received are sent to your e-mail.
  4. Connect with relevant Special Interest Groups in your field.
  5. Pay it forward—help others as repayment to those who helped you.

Donna Coulson is a professional certified coach. She has taught within Rutgers Executive and Professional Education's Essential Management Skills program and Leadership Development Series.