I am an active networker. I enjoy meeting new people, discussing ideas and sharing opinions. Recently, I have met a number of Ex-CEO’s, former CIO’s and Interim CFO’s. To a man, they all described themselves as taking a sabbatical; some to write a book, some to spend more time with their family so that they can study their options and some to “re-think their career”. Often they were networking because they were looking for an opportunity to become a non-exec or interim board advisor without any real hope or plan to meet this goal.
Clearly the strategies people adopt once they are free of their old role may vary but one thing is certain; most use their old jobs as a crutch. They hang on to their old job titles for as long as they can in the hope that they can secure a new role simply because they once had a senior job at a previous company. Do they not have current projects, options, goals and drive that they could be expounding? Wouldn’t this be a better approach to creating the interest that might finally result in a challenging and more rewarding new role?
Sure, it is perfectly normal to use your reputation to build new connections in your personal network but, gaining respect from your peers comes from being seen as an achiever whose time is not yet over. Having the presence and drive to opine on interesting and meaningful issues; discussing how previous experience can be used to solve new problems and being seen as a leader that is forward looking will earn that respect while pontificating on previous “important” roles will surely show you as just another “has-been”.