When you lose your job, you lose more than a paycheck. You lose a large part — maybe even all — of your social network.

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When you lose your job, you lose more than a paycheck. You lose a large part — maybe even all — of your social network.

Workplaces are like villages. Companies encourage this because a sense of community — i.e., an emotional attachment to your co-workers and a desire to support them — is often what’s behind your “choice” to work nights and weekends for no extra pay. You might even be one of the many people who have few (or no) friends outside of work.

However, those warm, fuzzy feelings of collegiality make losing a job an emotional as well as financial blow. The emotional loss may actually be worse, because isolation can be so debilitating. It can even stand in the way of your getting a new job. So here is a simple plan of action to implement on Day One of the layoff.

Identify five people you know who have a ton of friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Take these people out to coffee (individually). Explain that you’re looking to expand your range of acquaintances and ask for the names of five new people — both folks who might lead to a new job and those who would just make good friends.

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Why would these five people oblige? First, it’s a flattering request, and second, you’re buying the coffee. Third, and even more important, it’s specific and it’s simple. You’re not asking them for something really difficult, like a new job. You’re not whining, “I know no one.” You’re asking for a list of names. It’s a clean transaction with a clear beginning and end.

There are other steps you can take to rebuild your community. You can join Toastmasters, volunteer at a food bank, take up a new (inexpensive) hobby, get more involved at church, sign up for a class, get to know your neighbors. Set yourself the task of trying a couple of these.

Ideally, everyone should maintain a community of friendships and acquaintances that is not dependent on a sole factor, such as a job. These are the people who will form your safety net in case of disaster — health, employment or otherwise. You would do the same thing for them, of course.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.