Stay in Touch!
I’m sure by now, you have come across several people in your academic, personal, and professional lives who have in some way had an impact on you. Whether that person was your mentor, a peer, a passerby, whoever that person may have been, they impacted you in some way that prompted you to write down their email, collect their business card, or even add them on LinkedIn. The unfortunate truth is that as we progress with our careers and add more and more people to our network, we unconsciously neglect the connections we’ve created early on in our progression. It is only when we need to reach out for a “favor” or for something that will lead to our personal benefit that we choose to remember them. So my question to you is: as you continue to sculpt your career path, how do you stay in touch with these people? We’ll explore the answer to this question below using some tips based on what “Careers FAQs” advised.
- Keep a record of your network
While yes our LinkedIn account maintains a record of our connections, you should keep a record that is more personal to you, where you are able to leave commentary. For example, a running Excel document where you include the contact information about your connection; a few notes about the interaction that you had with that person- include personal details such as family facts, likes, and dislikes; and lastly a column that chronicles your last point of contact. In doing this, when you reach out to your contact, they know that the conversation you had was genuine and not just a mere attempt to advance yourself professionally.
- Use social media to stay in touch
Social media allows us to comfortably reach out to our contacts every now and again without feeling the awkwardness of a long time of no communication. But be careful! Remember, you are not necessarily “friends” with your contacts, therefore be sure to maintain your professional mannerisms when you engage with them via social media. Touch base with a quick check-in email or even share an interesting article with them through LinkedIn. You benefit in two ways by taking these steps (1) you show your contact that you value your connection and (2) when it comes time when you need that “favor” you won’t feel selfish and your contact would most likely be willing to assist you, even if it means going out of his/her way. With contacts that you have closer relationships with, it doesn’t hurt to arrange a coffee-outing or a quick-lunch catch-up with them.
- Return the favor
If someone in your network asks for help, offer what you can. Connect that contact to another person in your network who can assist, refer that contact to a job posting that you know about, and if all you can offer is to keep an eye out for possibilities, that’s okay too! The thing that matters the most is that you were ready and willing to help and trust me, your kindness will not go unnoticed. Always remember, the relationships that you have built are a two-way street.
- Extend your gratitude
Never take your network for granted. Thanking your contacts for any help they may have extended to you during your development stages is key to maintaining a strong relationship. Let them know of your personal accomplishments like getting a new job, getting a promotion, etc. Studies have shown that gratitude improves one’s happiness, and who doesn’t want a happy relationship, surely not you!
I encourage you to put these tips into practice and to reflect on the difference they make in your network connections. The most successful professionals know how to leverage their network by maintaining strong relationships. You’re on your way to be the next successful professional, right?
- -PCA Davele Zephyr