“Don’t take it personally that I haven’t accepted your LinkedIn invitation,” said a project manager I had known for a number of years. “I was wondering about that”, I said. “I haven’t accepted anyone’s invitation because I deleted my LinkedIn account,” he continued.
“You what?” I exclaimed after catching my breath. “Yeah, I deleted my account because I just didn’t have the time to keep up with it.” Needless to say I was shocked. I think he may have only had 50 or 60 people in his LinkedIn network, but that certainly is better than nothing and should not take a great deal of his time.
Then I thought about it a bit more and realized that many PMP Project Managers may be guilty of a similar thing. Certainly nothing as egregious as deleting your LinkedIn account, but succumbing to something I call “networking atrophy”.
What is Networking Atrophy?
Networking atrophy is the state of mind and routine of activity you fall into after you’ve worked somewhere for a lengthy period of time. “Lengthy” is a relative term that depends upon what type of environment you are used to working in. For those in IT, lengthy may be a couple of years. For those in other fields that may not change as fast as IT, it may be longer.
Regardless of the amount of time it takes, networking atrophy starts to occur once you have been lulled into a false sense of job security. You feel as if your company has a guaranteed future, your department is stable, your boss is looking out for you, and your job is bullet-proof. You spend less and less time with those who are outside of your organization and only begin to focus internally. You stop going to professional association events, you stop going to outside training, and you no longer stay in touch with your colleagues from previous employers.
Why is Networking Atrophy So Dangerous?
This is an extremely dangerous position to let yourself get into as a PMP Project Manager! One day your concerned boss from your stable department in the company that has a bright future comes to you and says the company is in trouble. Some tough decisions had to be made and the department is having to “right-size”. Unfortunately, you were on the wrong side of the right sizing and your services are no longer needed. That’s it. A couple months of severance pay and you are out on the street.
The reality is that there is no security regardless of where you work. The days of starting at one company and retiring at the same company are long gone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sheds light on the fact that workers born between the years of 1957 – 1964 held an average of 11 jobs between the ages of 18-44!
Think you can afford to delete your LinkedIn account or let your networking muscles atrophy? Think again. Part 2 of this series will provide you with three things you can do to ensure your networking muscles stay in shape!
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