Keeping Your Professional Connections Alive
Manage your network relationships without feeling like it's a full-time job
At the beginning of your career, the best way to find a good job is to work your “connections.” Chat it up with old professors, internship advisors, people you have met at networking events, even family friends, but these connections shouldn’t just end with a great job offer.
It is important to keep your professional connections alive at all times. You never know when you will need to get a new position, your company will want to collaborate with someone or you will need career advice and that’s what these connections are for.
If you do not keep in touch and only reach out to these people when you need a favor it will seem as if you are only using them for your benefit.
This relationship should be mutual and you should want to connect with them during times when you do not need any help.
Here are some of the best ways to keep your connections alive without this feeling like a full-time job.
Keep a List
I have a Google Doc that has a list of every professional connection I have created in the past with their contact number and email and the last time I spoke with them. This is everyone from a great interview I had that I didn’t get the job with to my senior thesis advisor in college.
Having the date of the last time you spoke really helps you put in perspective how long it has been since you’ve been in contact. If the last time you spoke with a contact was in 2010, it would be very difficult to bring that connection back to life now but at least you have the correct information about the last time you spoke.
This seems like a lot of work, but if you go back to this document frequently and update it then the task will be small and pay off will be huge.
Emails are great, but coffee is better
It is good practice to email these connections every few months to keep them fresh, see how they are doing and follow up on any projects you worked on together. But seeing each other in person, if it is possible, is always preferable.
An email is easily forgotten but meeting for lunch or even finding 20 minutes to meet for coffee creates a better environment for conversation and true connection. You want to be on the forefront of this person’s brain when they hear about an exciting new position or project, so set yourself apart by going out of your way to see them and do not just send an email.
Seeing a person for 20 minutes over coffee beats 20 emails any day.
Follow up, Follow up, Follow up
Now that you’ve gone through all this effort to see your connection, it is important to follow up and send a thank you. This will tie the bow on your meetup and make you more memorable.
I also make sure to follow up with my connections when I see an article or attend an event that reminds me of them.
This may seem incredibly overwhelming and keeping up with connections can seem like a full-time job but these people are incredibly important to your career success.
It is important to prioritize connections. Someone you met at a party once and got their business card could be important but there are only so many hours in a day to follow up with people and your lasting connections should take precedence.
If you make it a part of your week to look back at that document and follow up with a connection, then who knows what great things could come out of it!
Monster Wants to Know: How has keeping professional connections alive helped your career? Share with us in the comment section.