When it comes to thinking about staying connected with your extended network, especially if you have a large one, it can almost be as daunting as, say, public speaking for a lot of people. But, it can be broken down into manageable steps. The most important thing with networking is that you stay in touch with those you connect with and you make every effort to keep a relationship going – even if you don’t “need” something at the moment.
Here are our five best tips for continued networking success.
1) Pass Along Articles of Interest to Your Contacts
One great way to stay in touch is to pass along anything of interest to your contacts. You want to continually demonstrate that you’re not only passionate about your industry (and follow it regularly), but also that you are genuinely interested in your contact’s best interest. It never hurts to reach out to someone you know and say, “Hi, John, I came across this article and thought of you. Perhaps you’d find the statistic on the growing demographics of 18- to 24-year-olds interesting for your research. I hope you’re well. All my best, Paul.” 2) Keep Your Network Posted of Your Updates
We recommend that you touch base with your contacts at least twice a year. A year can be quite a bit of time, and a lot can happen. If you are hired for a position, pick up a new internship, move to a new city or start a new blog, these are all reasons to update your network on what’s happening in your life. It’s also important that you use these opportunities to thank those that have helped you become who you are or get you to where you are today.
3) Remember Special Occasions
This can be a hard one. In a perfect world, we would all remember everyone’s birthdays and important events, but unfortunately, real life can get in the way of that. If there are certain members of your network who are your friends on Facebook, make it a daily habit to look at the “Birthdays” reminder to see if there’s anyone you should reach out to. And this doesn’t mean you should leave a generic “Happy Birthday” on someone’s wall; rather take the time to type out an e-mail and let the person know you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t take a lot of additional effort, and it’s an easy way to stand out from the “Facebook wall clutter.” In addition, keep an eye on big events announced by your contacts. If you want to get into public relations and you see that your friend launched a new campaign, send them a congratulatory note.
4) Create Google Alerts for Your Contacts and/or Their Businesses
One great way to keep tabs on a contact or his or her company is by creating a Google Alert. It’s free and takes less than a minute, and the service can send you valuable information on a colleague that you might have been too busy to notice. Then, when you see big news about someone or his or her company, take a minute to send an e-mail and follow up. If you’re not sure how to set up a Google Alert, check out our recent post on the CareerSparx blog, “Your Dream Employer? Do More Than Google Them.”
5) Follow Them on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn
Again, the idea is to stay connected with your contacts and what’s going on in their lives. If you see that a birthday is coming up or something important just happened, make note of what you see on your social media accounts and follow up via a personalized e-mail. Another tactic is to hit “like” if they post something produced by their company on a Facebook profile, or retweet a Twitter update for a big project of theirs. They will appreciate the support, and you will achieve your goal of staying connected and on their radar.
By following these five easy tips, you will be able to stay better connected to your network. And as you’ll see, it really isn’t as hard or as overwhelming as it seems. Best of luck.
Mario Schulzke is the creator of CareerSparx, an online course that helps recent college graduates begin their careers. For more information, download their free 61-page guide on how to start your career or check out the CareerSparx blog. When not helping recent graduates ignite their careers, Mario works as a senior director at WONGDOODY, curates IdeaMensch.com and recently completed the Ironman Switzerland.