What do you do when you need a new job and your network is as cold as ice?

How to Network When You Need a Job
Got a cold network but need a new job? Here are 5 steps to find a new job when your network is cold. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

That is the question posed to me recently via email by a man we will call Mark.


I’ve recently read your posts about keeping your network warm and I know what will help me long-term, but I need to get out of my current job NOW!!!

It’s toxic, stressful, and causing numerous problems outside of work. I feel disrespected, belittled, and I need out. But I also need the money.

My network is super cold. I only recently started using LinkedIn and I’ve never intentionally reached out to anyone.

Any advice is appreciated.

As you know, I am a huge fan of intentional networking. I’ve written about it extensively and will include links to previous posts on the top at the end of this post.

(Full disclosure: I haven’t followed my own rules this month. I’ll admit it. I’m three weeks behind on my quarterly reach out emails. Three weeks out of five years…yeah, I’ll take that)

So what can Mark do? His network is ice cold. Most people haven’t heard from him in ages. He didn’t mention it in the email, but he lives in a small town. He works in a highly-specialized industry that he loves and working remotely is very uncommon. His wife works part-time from home and cares for their two young children.

There are five steps to take in this situation. I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments as well. Together, we can help Mark…and each other.

5 steps to find a new job when your network is cold

  1. Realize not everyone is cold. Your entire network is not ice cold. You probably have five or ten close friends who can help. There is hope.
  2. Identify the objective and boundaries. Is your objective to replace your current income? Can you afford to make a little less? Do you want to start your own business? Are you open to moving? You need to figure out those things.
  3. Build your emergency fund. This is a good time to start a second job, as an entrepreneur, doing freelance work, or getting a part-time job. It’s also a good time for your wife to bring in more income, if she can. You also might find something full-time in this process. This might also be a good time to sell something, especially something that has you in debt. You aren’t desperate yet. Desperate people are horrible salespeople, so sell stuff now when you have some negotiating power. Now is the time to sell that $40,000 car, boat, or other toy that will create a nice emergency fund. This isn’t the easiest of steps, but it’s a whole lot easier to quit your job when you’ve had it if you’ve’ got $50,000 in the bank as opposed to $1,000.
  4. Immediately build and warm up your network. 
    • Email everyone currently in your network today. Just ask about them, tell them how you are, and ask if you can help with anything.
    • Join the Thank You Revolution and start writing thank you notes like mad man. 
    • Take some friends to lunch.
    • Post updates and share good articles on LinkedIn so you come across people’s radars more often.
    • Respond to others’ updates and shares.
    • Share articles with people one-on-one.
    • Ask your close friends who you need to know and get to know them. (I will write about this in the future, but here is a great question to ask: “Who are the five people I need to know in this town?” When you ask that of five people, you will get twenty referrals, then ask those twenty. Soon you have a network of one hundred influential people.)
    • Here are four posts to help: Maintaining a Warm Network – What I’ve Done | Your Networking Budget – 200 Hours and $1000 | Give to Grow Your Network | How NOT to Network on LinkedIn
  5. Start looking and asking. If you hypothetically have no network at all, start looking where people do post jobs. I’ve never personally had been hired as a result of a job posting, but it does work, especially in a bind like this. Don’t apply online unless that is the only option. Find the right person using a site like LinkedIn or Jigsaw. Contact them directly. Assuming you do know a few other human beings, ask them. Repeatedly. 

You might be near the end of your rope, Mark. This time is going to be hard. So don’t let it happen again. Start warming up your network for the next time, because there will be a next time.

What tips do you have for Mark or someone else in this situation?

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24 thoughts on “Help! I’m Desperate for a New Job

  1. Eric Dingler says:

    Find the nugget of good in your current job and hold on to it. Focus on it, not the negative aspects. Not easy, but totally necessary. This way, as you are warming up your network….you/re not “Mr. or Mrs. Negative” who is complaining about their current job non stop. No body wants to hire…or even really help….that person.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      So true Eric.

      There is always something to love. The one client with whom you share stories about your kids. The guy in the cube next to you who is a fellow Red Sox fan. The new project or places you get to travel or…

      Every job at every organization has its upside.

      1. Matt McWilliams says:

        That was a GREAT podcast Jim. I had forgotten about that. But Hyatt is spot on with his points there.

    2. Bob Winchester says:

      This is so important Eric! Thank you for adding this!

      It’s so natural to focus on the problem at hand. Thinking and focusing on the good things is vital! Like @twitter-55722200:disqus said, your work has a spiritual component to it. If you are letting it eat up all your blessings, then things will only get worse.

  2. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    @ecdingler:disqus that’s funny. I gave almost that exact advice to one of my readers when she called me last night.

  3. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    Matt, some great advice here. I am going to link it back to the post I wrote yesterday. Very relevant. (All, making connections like this is also an example of keeping your network warm. 😉

    1. Matt McWilliams says:


      Please share your link here. I think my readers will get a lot out of it.

  4. Lily Kreitinger says:

    Here’s my very long comment. The great thing is that Mark is NOT unemployed. That’s huge. This situations looks a lot worse when you HAVE to get another job to pay the bills pronto. I experienced this over a year ago when I unexpectedly lost my job. I’d been with the company for five years and went from full time to telecommuting. My position was not essential and I was laid off along with 60 others. I was in a new area with NO network and two very young kids, which made it hard to go out and meet with people.

    That’s when I hit the online world really hard. I participated in group discussion in my industry on Linked In, hooked up with a group or recruiters in my area that host a job hunt chat on Twitter every week, started by blog. Six months into it I got a great contract opportunity that led to my full-time job now at the same company.

    Long story but here’s my lessons learned:
    – Do not get discouraged or desperate. It shows in an interview.
    – Reach out through social media. Friends of friends can be helpful.
    – Take a contract position if available. Expand your geographical limits a bit.
    – Think of transferable skills you could use should you not find an exact match to
    your current title.
    – Don’t make a decision to quit your job until you have an accepted offer in writing
    for another one.
    – Help others who are in the same situation
    – Hang in there, this situation will not last forever.

    1. Bob Winchester says:

      Wow, great advice Lily! I had no idea that you went through all that. What a great success story though!

      We love your blog posts…I mean your comments. 😉

      1. Lily Kreitinger says:

        Ha, ha, ha. Very funny

      2. Bob Winchester says:

        Sorry, I couldn’t help but give you a little trouble, considering you said it yourself…

        Your comments are always awesome, so please keep it up!!!

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      My goodness, what an incredible story Lily.

      Perseverance…it’s a good trait. Where have I heard that before? Perhaps in a book 🙂

  5. Kathy Leicester says:

    Now *this* is my kind of post! My suggestions focus more on what goes on inside your brain, Mark, rather than the terrific and specific tips Matt and others offer.

    Based on some experience, and history:

    1. Refuse to believe the lie that “it’s just a job.” Nearly everyone will tell you this, as if you’re some sort of undisciplined teenager who just needs to knuckle down and grow up. Nope. There is a huge spiritual component to work–see Matt’s post from yesterday for proof of this. Churchill didn’t pretend things were OK when he led his people and the free world to victory.

    2. Choose one or two people whom you admire. My three are The Queen (as in Elizabeth II), Margaret Thatcher, and Winston Churchill. In situations that arise, I ask myself “What would they do to remain optimistic and take proper action?
    3. Begin the day in prayer and devotion. That first hour is critical to setting the tone for your day.
    Then, follow Matt and others’ advice and take practical steps to walk, albeit slowly, toward the situation that calls you toward it. There is a reason you’re in a toxic situation, and it’s not to stay there.
    Blessings, good fortune, and luck!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      So I have to ask…are you British? 🙂

      Great suggestions Kathy.

      Just read a bio of Churchill and loved it. I knew a few basics but what a fascinating person.

      #3 is important whether you hate your job, love your job, or have no job. I mix it up a bit and spend my first hour or two writing, but the more I think about it, that is a form of devotion for me. Then I move to exercise and prayer/reading. Otherwise I fall asleep praying 🙂

  6. Bob Winchester says:

    This is good stuff Matt! Although, you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. 😉

    I always need a good reminder of the basics. It’s so easy to get caught up in my own ambitions. Showing concern for others without expectations is just the right thing to do. The fact that it warms up my network is icing on the cake!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Someone who frequents the blog but shall remain nameless asked me my secrets and I told this person I’ve written it all. There are no secrets. Perhaps a few tricks, but networking is all blocking and tackling. It’s just a matter of doing it.

      1. Bob Winchester says:

        Ok, not sure if you read my post today with the football coach analogy…either way that’s pretty cool!

        “networking is all blocking and tackling. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Not yet but look forward to it. I am about a day behind on most blogs I read 🙂

  7. Josh Collins says:

    Great words and insight here. The one thing I have learned and always caution others about is, when networking, if you don’t generally care about the other person you’re connecting with, and only thinking about what you can get from them, you’ll be deceiving and frustrating the whole process. Network out of authentic concern for your peers, seek their good first.

  8. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Here’s what I will say about that. Matt is a guru when it comes to networking. I have learned TONS from him. And he’s been so very kind with his time and wisdom to teach me what he knows, and I can tell you for the short time that I’ve implemented it, it has paid off in huge ways!

  9. Tom Dixon says:

    Great advice, Matt. I especially like two things you mentioned: a reminder that there is HOPE, and reaching out to network contacts to HELP them first.

  10. Jon Stolpe says:

    Yes! Join the Thank You Revolution!

    Thankfully, I haven’t had to look for a job for quite a while, but I know it’s the people I’ve met along the way who have been instrumental in each step of my career. Don’t take these relationships for granted. Don’t burn bridges along the way. Don’t forget the power of face-to-face communication.

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