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When I took a career break to look after my child I initially wondered ‘Why would people keep in touch with me when I had nothing to offer them in return’?
I blindly assumed that people with full-fledged careers had nothing to benefit from me and wouldn’t be interested in networking.
I was very wrong.
It took me a while to realize that most people were happy to network and keep in touch with me, even when I was on a career break. I only had to take care of these two aspects:
(1) I needed to take the initiative to network, and,
(2) I had to be conscious that I did not waste their time in any way
Like me, if you were to network during a career break, you will find that as long as you do not waste their time with unnecessary messages or calls, they are most often happy to respond positively to your networking requests.
But why? What is in it for them?
First, most people do not have the time to network. Or, they do not make it a priority to invest in creating new contacts or to keep in touch with their existing ones. Which is why, when you take the initiative to create a connection or to keep in touch, they would not have too much of a problem in accommodating it. You would have, in fact, have saved them the time to network.
Second, a majority of the people you network with will be impressed with your drive and initiative, to see that you are still engaged with your field of work despite the career break. Although, don’t expect them to tell you that openly.
Third, if you had built a great reputation during your earlier stint at work, your acquaintances, ex-colleagues, and connections whom you continue to network with, may slowly start running their ideas through you, or use you as a sounding board. Your unbiased third person’s view would be invaluable to them.
And why should you network when on a career break?
Networking does not always have to be for the sole purpose of getting a new job or access to opportunities. It can also be for merely creating new acquaintances or maintaining relationships.
You would benefit by keeping in touch with people in your field of work, understanding different perspectives, developing new ideas or for even bouncing off your ideas with someone knowledgeable in the industry.
Networking during a career break ensures that you do not fall off the radar.
And sometimes it can be the only way during that phase of life, to get a peek into the world you used to be an integral part of earlier.
So, if you are on a career break, take the initiative and network. Get rid of the unfounded fear that people wouldn’t want to keep in touch with you. Most people will be happy to network with you even when you are on a break. Don’t worry about those who aren’t.
A career break is no reason to stop making new connections or retaining the earlier ones you had made. Networking will help both you and them.
About the author:
Sruthi was an HR Manager, working for companies like Infosys and Thomson Reuters. After taking a break to look after her child, she now freelances. She enjoys developing HR content and writes on topics related to HR.
(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)
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