Networking is the single most important thing you can do for your career success. The focus is often on building the networking but you also need to work intentionally to maintain your network.
Keep Your Network Up to Date
While it is important to make the initial connection, the true value of your network comes from strengthening those connections over time. It is difficult for your network to help you if that don’t know what you are up to at a given point in time. If you initiated your networking when you were searching for job, be sure to send an update when you have landed. If you decide to go back to school to pursue an advanced degree, let your network know. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself but share significant and relevant updates.
Look for Opportunities to Add Value
The most effective networking is when you build a mutually beneficial relationship. Look for opportunities to add value for key members of your network. If you see an article that makes you think of them, share it with a note. If you do a case in class that might be of interest to them, send a quick update. If you know someone who may fit a unique need at their organization, make the connection. Find ways to help those in your network. It makes them want to help you.
Remember to Say Thank You
If a contact meets with you to share their experience and advice, send a thank you note. If they refer you to another contact, send a note to thank them for the connection and tell them how helpful it was. When people share their time and experience with you, it is critical to let them know you appreciate their support.
Holiday cards are often a valuable tool for staying connection but the question then becomes “which holidays does your contact celebrate?” To ensure that you do not offend anyone in your desire to stay in touch, why not send Thanksgiving cards or new years cards or even happy spring? If you see something that makes you think of this person, send them a note to let them know you are thinking of them. People are more willing to continue to help you if they feel their efforts are appreciated. If you try something they suggested, let them know you did and had great results.