In a previous blog post, I explained the benefits of building a professional network. From receiving helpful advice and increasing your confidence, to gaining referrals and support, developing a professional network is vital to your success. However, building a network is just one step – maintaining a relationship with those connections is another crucial step for career success.
Social media can play a significant role in staying connected with your network. Two key profiles are LinkedIn and Facebook because they are an easy way to stay in the loop. Keep an eye out for statuses or profile updates from your connections as you scroll through your feed. For example, if a connection posts about a job promotion, follow up with a short post congratulating them on their achievement. Dorie Clark, a marketing strategy consultant, and author of Stand Out Networking: A Simple and Authentic Way to Meet People on Your Own Terms, recommends cheering on your connections on social media because it gets your name out there, puts you on their radar, and you’re not asking for anything in return.
Connecting with your network in person is always a great idea. Arrange for a small coffee date or grab a quick lunch with a few connections that all know each other. Meeting as a group not only saves everyone time, but it also allows everyone to give a quick, professional update without having to awkwardly meet up with just one person you have not seen in awhile.
If one of your connections helped your career grow or taught you a valuable career lesson, be sure to show your appreciation! While handwritten notes are a nice gesture, an email or social media post can be appropriate as well due to our digitally connected world. “I think people appreciate follow-up and kudos whenever they come, even if it’s months after the fact,” Clark said. “You could write something like, ‘Thanks so much to @joesmith for the great advice on blogging a few months ago. Here’s my first post!’ He will likely be thrilled.”
Keep a List
Keeping a list of your professional connections can help you stay in touch. Record their name, phone number, email and the last date you spoke with them. Then schedule regular check-ins where you reach out every three months or so. By checking in with a short note asking them how they are, you’re putting your name in front of them in a friendly, casual way.