Many job seekers are well aware of the fact that most positions are filled through networking. But many job seekers have also faced the uncomfortable situation of having to revive or even create a network while hunting for a new job because they did not keep their networks active while they were employed. Because they did not keep up with people that they knew when they didn’t need anything, it is that much harder to reconnect with people when they do need something—namely a job.
Here are 10 tips for keeping your network alive and well throughout your work life, not just when you are looking for that next position. Once you are employed, use these secrets to maintain your network and even expand it.
1. Once you have a landed a new job, be sure to let everyone in your network know about your new position. You can do this by phone or email. And be sure to give them your contact information so that you can stay in touch.
2. Stay in contact with people in your network when you don’t need anything. Periodically send them a professional article that would be of interest to them. Send them an e-card for the holidays. These are nice ways of just maintaining the relationship.
3. Call or email your professional contacts to bounce ideas off them. People love to have you ask them their opinion. It’s a way of staying in touch and at the same time having a sounding board.
4. Create a tickler file on your calendar (you might want to use Microsoft Outlook) to remind you to contact people in your network on a quarterly basis. If you don’t schedule it, you’re unlikely to do it, and your time will be taken up doing other things.
5. Attend professional association meetings and get involved. Most professional associations are begging for people to hold offices within the organization. You will increase your visibility in the field if you not only attend the meetings but also participate actively in the running of the organization.
6. Stay in touch with colleagues from previous organizations. These colleagues can be a good source of referral for potential job openings in the future. And you may also be in a position to refer these colleagues to openings at your organization. Bosses usually ask good workers if they know of anyone they would refer when they are looking for new workers. Staying in touch can be mutually beneficial.
7. Start a Yahoo group for former co-workers for the professional advancement of all who are interested. This is a great way of staying in touch with people who know you professionally. This gives you a network of professionals outside of the organization that you currently work for. You can exchange links to professional articles, ask for advice from the group, and keep each other abreast of what is happening with the group members professionally.
8. Look for opportunities to write or speak on topics that you know very well. This increases your visibility in your field of expertise, and it increases the chances that people will seek you out because you are knowledgeable. This will enlarge your network.
9. Create a profile on a professional online networking group like LinkedIn.com. Also, make sure to connect with other people that you know on LinkedIn. You can also join groups on LinkedIn that are clustered around a topic of interest to the group members (i.e., recruitment, entrepreneurship, and alumni of different institutions).
10. You can always do lunch. Even though the Internet has become a great way to communicate with people, nothing can compare with face-to-face contact. Schedule time to go to lunch with people in your network periodically to get face time with them. This will really personalize your contacts with people in your network.
*Feel free to follow me on Twitter @cherylepalmer and connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylpalmer.
Register for a free social media job search webinar at www.calltocareer.com