I got an email from my boss yesterday telling us that a mutual acquaintance had just lost her job in journalism. I had just seen her 2 weeks ago at a big industry conference, so I dropped her an email to see if it was true. Of course, it was. I offered my sympathy and said I'd do what I could to help her.
And, amazingly enough I was able to help her. I put in a good word for her with a hiring manager who was looking to fill a job dealing with social media. I was also able to get her a talk with a company looking for a consultant. I was able to do that for her because I have always taken care to cultivate -- and feed -- my network.
I work in aviation, which is an industry where people tend to stay, even as they shift from company to company. I joined the industry in 1992. The last time I've actually had to apply for a job by submitting a resume and being interviewed was in 1993. Every job I've had since then has been because of my network.
Back in the late 1990s, I worked for a company that was sold, and the new management team changed things drastically. I wanted to move on and when I informed my network, I had 3 jobs to choose from. And it's been like that ever since. Even though I am perfectly happy in my current job, I still get calls from companies and people who offer me opportunities. Part of the care and feeding of the network is to reciprocate whenever possible.
As a reporter, I hear about things all the time and I will pass them along to people in my network. No matter how busy I get (and I am busy), I will call or email key people that have helped me in my career just to see what's going on. And you are also responsible to help people in your network who may have fallen on hard times, because you never know when that person may be able to return the favor.