The stock market just hit record levels. The labor market is posting the lowest unemployment rates in history. Economic growth is up. The Federal Reserve is holding interest rates in check. The financial news is good. The global economy is seemingly strong. Some mistakenly act like this is normal. But is a recession coming?
I have been speaking at business events for over ten years. My career as a speaker began in 2009 at the bottom of the Great Recession. My topic was about the how and why “networking” was important. People were out of work or worried about being laid off. Sales in many industries were way down. People cared about the power of connecting with people and industry and trade associations were very concerned about their members.
Does Networking Matter In Boom Times?
In 2019 nobody seems to care about the power of networking. Being an observer, I was prepared for the changes in the marketplace and created other content (and I continue to speak at business events about the gap between potential and performance). Yet the lack of interest in “networking” and the power of “business relationships” confuses me. Should we care about people when the economy is on fire?
In good times and bad times the opportunities come from people. Plus, many economists think the next recession coming ashore is inevitable. It might be in the next 12 months, or maybe a little farther out. But the economy cannot continue to grow forever. It never has. Economic activity has always been cyclical. This has nothing to do with politics or Donald Trump or the Congress.
If a recession is coming, we all should be taking steps now to prepare for the downside risks.
Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
If the bottom fell out of the tech market, I assume this would hit the young millennials in the Bay Area, New York, Boston, Denver, Austin, San Diego, and Los Angeles the hardest. The monthly rent to live in these cities is very high. Most do not have a six month emergency fund (as Dave Ramsey recommends). If the job market flips and the yield curve shows that investors are bearish on risk, then we could see 2009 all over again.
The time is now to start networking. Don’t wait for panic in the faces of the executives at JP Morgan Chase. All opportunities come from people no matter what the market data says. If you wait to try to establish long-term and mutually beneficial relationships until you need help, then you are going to be in trouble.
It takes time to cultivate the types of connections where people will go out of their way to help you. Rarely do people look to make introductions for strangers But it is common for people to move mountains to help a friend find a job. If you wait til you need water to dig a well, you will dehydrate before you get to drink.
Cross Generational Networking and Mentorship
My favorite work is when companies and associations have me speak to about mentoring and cross generational networking. This topic is just part of the overall subject of networking, but we all find more success when we have connections with people different from ourselves. We hear a lot about diversity, but too often we forget the power of getting to know people from different age groups.
Since a recession coming soon is a strong possibility, the smartest people should be seeking to make diverse friendships.
Cross generational networking is a win for the younger and older people. Observationally it seems that too many gravitate to those like them and this causes us to live in bubbles. Seeking out people who are different exposes everyone to fresh ideas.
Additionally, Mentors do not have to be older. People mentor those in areas where they have experience and the other person is a novice. No matter if your mentor is older, younger, or a peer… it is smart to have several. The time is now to look for those with whom you can connect that can show you the way.
Recession Proof Your Career
A recession coming to an economy near you is going to happen at some point. What are you doing about it? Is your company or membership association helping prepare you? Probably not. This is something you have to do on your own.
To be ready for a recession coming, here are four tips:
- Educate Yourself. If you are young and missed out on all the fun of being laid off in 2009, learn about how people got through the recession. Add to your resume and have a plan.
- Network. You should be networking as if your career depends on it. Because it does.
- Save money. You should always have six months of emergency funds in the bank. It is also helpful to pay off your car and credit cards in the boom times.
- Look for ways to help others now. Those who serve others are the ones who get helped in their hour of need. Even in good times there are people in your network who need help.
Create The Right Habits
Warren Buffett said: “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” If your habits are wrong now, then they will be anchors around your neck when times get tough.
I work with people and groups to get the habits of how they engage with the people around them working to be an asset. Recession coming? Yes. Will you be ready? Yes. Safeguard your career by making networking a priority.
Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional EmCee.