The trust deficit, and why that means you have to get off your ass and network.

I rarely use the word ass in a headline (even though, as I look at it, I'm admittedly enjoying it). My apologies - I'm attempting to make a large point.

When you come to me and say, "I don't have a network. I don't know anybody. I'm just a nobody"...?

In my head, I say, "Enjoy that job search that's going to drag on forever."

Of course, I then calmly and patiently counsel the job seeker, addressing his or her fears and concerns one by one, and (hopefully) getting them pointed in a more fruitful, positive direction. I do.

But then, when we've covered all of that, I climb up on top of my desk and yell (in the most kind, encouraging way that I can):

"You need A network! You need TO network! You absolutely have to make building and maintaining a professional network one of your top priorities. Now! Now! Now! Now!"

Why? For a number of reasons, but here's the biggie:

We, as a society, have a really hard time trusting others, especially in business.

We have a trust deficit.

Thank Enron, Exxon and BP if you wish.

Blame the government. That's always popular.

Blame Mr. Murdoch.

Blame every advertiser who has forever altered our image of "the perfect body" by PhotoShopping the living hell out of women's bodies in the name of the almighty dollar.

Regardless of who you blame (and, by the way, blaming will get you nowhere), the bottom line is still the same - We don't trust like we used to.

We simply do not blindly trust what's being reported to us anymore, not by a longshot. Instead, we seek out information from people within our own circles as we make decisions. People we trust. People we know are going to do right by us with their recommendations and counsel.

And so this is how quite a lot of recruitment and hiring goes on today.

Before a company ever pops a job posting up on Monster.com or even their own websites, wanna know what they typically do?

They ask their own employees for referrals. They often incent them financially, too. Bring us a great hire, we'll give you a few hundred (or more) dollars, just to say thank you.

They ask the people within their own professional networks for referrals, too.

They go to those they trust and they attempt to bypass the whole "talking to complete strangers off the street" aspect of the hiring process.

If you're someone who makes it a priority to build and maintain a professional network? This could work out quite nicely for you as you search for a new job.

If you're someone who has walled yourself off from all but a few people throughout your career? You may pay the price, at least short term, for it.

You need a circle of people, period.

You need people who trust you, who will vouch for you, who will recommend you, who will go to bat for you.

You need them in your job search, and you need them in your day-to-day professional life. And they need you. Because this is how we get around our trust deficit today.

And this is how companies hire people today, too.

Go. Network. Google the term "LinkedIn for job search" and learn everything you can about how you can use this amazing tool as a core networking platform.

I can help you with the search. I can offer motivation. I can make your resume and cover letter look supremely awesome.

But I cannot grow your network for you, job seeker. That one's on you.