Last week I had lunch with a colleague at the airport.  We were waiting for planes headed in opposite directions.  The topic turned to how often we’d been contacted by executives who were job hunting.  Either they’d been asked to leave their company or they saw it coming.  And they wanted assistance with their search.


We realized in the previous 2 weeks, we’d heard from a total of 7 executives.  The positions ranged from CXOs to VPs of Sales, Marketing, and HR.  They were all people we knew.  Suddenly, they were all in the job market.  In every case, it was the first time we’d spoken in over a year.  Minimum.   My colleague and I sat in the restaurant and wondered:  should we help them? 


Download the Safeguard Your Career with LinkedIn guide.  Learn how to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances.  Make sure if things go south, you always have other options. 


The Scenario

You probably don’t think about finding a job when you have a good one.  In fact, most of us disappear when we have a good job.  If we’re young, maybe we “drink the Kool Aid.”  We assume our history of success will always protect us.  Or if you’re mid-career you’re just busy mastering the demands of the position.  Either way, you drop from view.    


A few years later, something happens.  Maybe you get a new boss, or an unrealistic projection.  Perhaps you missed Q1 and Q2 looks shaky.  Your company got sold to private equity.  Whatever.  Nervous, you scroll through your phone or try to remember your LinkedIn password.  “Ah!” you think.  “Bill Smith!  He introduced me to some people last time!  We had a beer once in Phoenix!  I can call him!” 


Here’s the problem:  the guy you just called is just like you.  He is running through an airport.  He needs to hire 25 reps for a new product launch.  Or he’s planning a sales kick off.  He’s meeting the demands of HIS career.   You exchange pleasantries and practice your story of why you’re looking for a change.  Bill’s a good dude.  He says he’ll see what he can do.  You hang up and he takes 6 more calls before he boards his flight.  Helping you with your situation has faded to priority number 73 on his list.  


You didn’t offer Bill anything of value and he is swamped anyway.  You didn’t look at Bill’s connections in LinkedIn and thoughtfully ask to be introduced.  You haven’t even remained in contact with Bill.  Bill has a thousand things on his mind, and you’re not one of them. 


The Solution

Stay in contact with people who can help you even while you’re happily employed.  Do it using “Social Debt.”  Social debt is the act of doing something valuable for someone without being asked.  It’s a proprietary methodology SBI uses in Social Selling.  However, it also works as a way of making yourself memorable to your connections. 


If your response to reading this is “I won’t be fired,” you’re kidding yourself.  Anyone can be fired.  If your response is “I’m too busy to do this,” you’re cheating yourself.  Download the Safeguard Your Career With LinkedIn guide and see how easy this is.  Learn what our research revealed as the top 5 forms of social debt. 


Imagine a different ending to the story above.  What if you had said “Hi Bill. I know you’re busy.  I wanted to schedule a time to talk about 3 people in your LinkedIn network.  I may be in the job market soon.  I think I could help out some of the people you know.”  Bill says “are you kidding?  Of course!  That sales rep you recommended to me last fall is crushing his number.  When’s best for you?” 


The reason the outcome is different in this version is because you’ve helped Bill.  Last year you introduced Bill to a candidate for an open job he had.  This is one of the forms of Social Debt covered in the Safeguard Your Career guide.  You saw the job posting on LinkedIn and thought of someone you knew.  It was a great fit and now Bill really wants to help you. 


The outcome of this story is totally up to you, because it’s your story.  Of course, we were happy to help the 7 people we heard from.  If you’re ever in the market, will people jump to your assistance?  The answer to that question depends on you.