NEWS + ADVICE
Stay in Touch with your Network: A 5-Step Model
When job seekers I’ve worked with land their new job, I ask them this question:
“What are you going to do with your new-found network? You know, that network of contacts that you built during the course of your job search.”
“Stay in touch?” they say.
“How?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” they say.
Well, read on to hear how.
During your search, you worked hard to build a network comprised of professionals, colleagues, service providers, hobbyists, referrals, friends, and even family members who helped you in some way during your search. Chances are, it was information provided by one of these folks that helped you identify the link that led to your new job. As you think back over your search, it is likely that you have come to view your network as a valuable resource – a resource that you don’t want to lose or treat cavalierly.
In it for the Long-haul.
So, how do you maintain this valuable resource . . . your network? One way is to begin to think differently about your network. As valuable as it has been in the short term during you search, now begin to think of your network as a resource for the long-haul. With the goal in mind of managing your professional profile and maintaining visibility in your profession (Please refer to my article You’ve Got the Job, Now What? – 10 Tips for Staying Marketable), utilize your newly found network as a way to do it. How do you go about keeping your network current, active, and a dynamic part of how you go about managing your career?
Managing Your Network – A 5-Step Model
STEP 1: Make a list.
Make a list of the people with whom you came into contact during your job search. Make it a comprehensive list. Include everyone who helped in any way. This help could range from someone having been just a friendly ear to listen to you during the tough times, to those who actually provided leads to opportunities, to a coach who helped you strategize your search. Think outside the box: This list can even include recruiters and hiring managers for whose position you came close but did not get the offer.
STEP 2: List the types of help you received.
Now, turn your list into a table and list how people helped. For instance, they may have helped by:
- Providing leads
- Introducing you to people – the person who is in-the-know and knows everyone
- Sharing knowledge about good companies to work for
- Being a good listener
- Encouraging you to keep going and boosting your spirits
- Challenging you, making you think more critically about your job search strategy
- Being a friend to lean on
- Taking on the role of coaching you
- Helping with the logistics of your search
STEP 3: Now, rank their assistance to you on a scale of 0 – 5.
Ask yourself, how helpful was the assistance or help provided? Is this someone I want to stay in touch with in the future? Rank the value on your table (0 being of no value, and 5 being most valuable).
STEP 4: Get back in touch with a heartfelt “Thank You!”
Everyone on your list who was helpful in any way, no matter how small, deserves a written Thank You, that:
- Expresses your gratitude
- Notes how much you value their assistance and what it meant to you
- Shares basic information about your new job: Company name, your title, duties, etc.
- States that you would like to stay in touch
- AND – this is an important point – offers to be of assistance any time you can be helpful to them! Remember, networking is a two-way street: They help you and you help them, and you are glad to do so.
For those special folks, who went above and beyond, make your heartfelt Thank You special!
For those who were especially helpful, do more than just a note of appreciation. Some possibilities include sending a gift, a personal visit to say thanks, or taking them out to lunch or dinner.
STEP 5: Decide how you will stay in touch.
Finally, decide on ways to stay in touch. Go back to Step 3. Highlight your most valuable contacts; these may be ranked by 4s and 5s. Those of moderate value may be ranked by 2s or 3s. Minimal to no value contacts may rank as 0’s or 1’s. Then decide on ways to stay in touch that you deem appropriate per each individual. Here are some ideas:
- For those contacts you deem most valuable, you may want to stay in touch with a quarterly or semi-annul lunch meeting, a coffee meeting, or a call.
- For those of moderate value, an e-mail sent 3 times a year to say how you’re doing and inquiring about them may be adequate.
- For those of minimal or no value, a once yearly e-mail, or a holiday card, maintains your visibility.
Maintaining your Network = Managing your Career — No one will do it for you!
Maintaining your network is integral to managing your career pro-actively. Don’t count on anyone to do it for you! Pro-actively managing both your public and internal company professional profile by keeping your visibility high by staying in touch with your network, and continuing to build that network, is a smart strategy. It’s a kind of insurance. While it won’t guarantee you’ll never lose another job, it has been proven to be the best insurance to finding another job more quickly.
Best of luck managing your career!
Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected]. Follow Nancy on Twitter @AfterJobClub.This entry was posted on Sunday, January 15, 2017 6:02 am