"I love my job, so I don't need to be out there networking for a while."
I hear this a lot. It's one of the most common fallacies out there in the world of career development and career coaching! It's as if enjoying your job and looking forward to your next role are two mutually exclusive states, when in reality, they are complementary! The absolute best time to explore possible opportunities is when you're currently enjoying your work!
Here's an example to illustrate my point. Let's say you are a lab tech at a pharmaceutical company, and your primary role centers on quality control. At the moment you enjoy your job and you're learning something new every day.
Have you asked yourself what's next?
Do you think you would like to learn more about research and development, to see if that's an area you'd like to explore someday? Or are you interested in managing people and leading a team? Maybe you would like to follow a concept from start to finish, which suggests project management might be worth looking into. Because you are content in your role, you have an amazing opportunity to explore other roles without time pressure or anxiety! You can attend industry gatherings for the areas that interest you, and make connections with professionals who may become critical for your next step!
Another great reason to strengthen your network now, while still in a rewarding job, is simply this: you have something to give. You can share information and expertise with a coworker or colleague who may become critical to your success later on down the road. You have the self-confidence and composure that comes with enjoying your work, and that makes it the perfect time to be generous.
In today's workplace, the distinction between mentor and mentee can sometimes become meaningless. The person who teaches you about the cycle of taking a product from conception to market might be thrilled to learn from you about how data analytics can inform process improvements. As you share a mutual exchange of expertise, each helps the other advance.
Finally, if you develop relationships with hiring managers and recruiters before you are looking to take the next step, you will have a big advantage over other candidates. You will become the "known quantity," because the decision-makers in your network know your work style and are familiar with your talents. When the time comes, they will gladly recommend you for that next challenge that interests you!
If you love your job and feel content where you are, you're in the best place to be as a job seeker.
You have no pressure and something to give, so use your position as a "known quantity" to lay the groundwork for the next fantastic phase of your career!