Lessons from the firing line

Replenish your network of career contacts

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in Career Management,Firing,Human Resources,Workplace Communication

If you’re worried about the threat of termination, try to relax. Getting fired can liberate aggressive go-getters and give them the fresh start they need.

Consider John Morgridge, the multimillionaire chairman of Cisco Systems. In the late 1970s he was fired from his manager’s job at Honeywell. That experience led him to build Cisco, a wildly profitable computer-network maker.

Before you plunge into a woe-is-me funk, reassess your skills and rally your allies to plan your next move. Here’s how:

Isolate key skills. Your No. 1 priority in the face of termination is boosting your confidence and gaining perspective. How? Surround yourself with fans. Schedule a week of lunches with your mentors and influential colleagues who have championed your cause in the past. Ask them to identify your best strengths, and crosscheck their input with your self-perception. Once you establish a consensus on your standout skills, you can then play upon those strengths to open career doors.

Expand your network. No matter how many professional acquaintances you’ve amassed, it’s not enough. Like salespeople who generate client referrals to build their business, you should routinely ask for names of more people you can contact for career advice. If you’re shy about asking, “Can you suggest other people for me to call?” try this approach. Explain that you want to talk to people who love their jobs. Say, “I want to get pumped up and meet people who’re truly excited about their work.” Encourage members of your network to refer you not only to their colleagues but also to their favorite clients, former bosses and consultants.

Armed with a set of new names, try to get e-mail addresses and introduce yourself electronically. Begin your message by identifying who referred you. Write that you will call and follow-up. Invite a reply to arrange a convenient time.

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