Networking is key to establishing connections and budding friendships. However, what people sometimes fail to realize is that it is just as important to maintain connections as it is to build them. Here are five tips to help you keep your existing contacts close.
Tip #1: Always garner a friendship before anything else. Asking for favors or even a smidgen of assistance without it makes the relationship one-sided. Keep in mind to meet your contact every once in a while and keep each other updated. That more than anything shows tenacity and a willingness to take the relationship above the networking level.
Tip # 2: The more you talk to your contact, the more personal the relationship becomes and the more comfortable you feel around him/her. Once that certain level of stiff formality diminishes, it becomes easier to maintain the relationship.
Tip # 3: Networking is also about being able to narrow down career choices instead of just finding jobs. I have found this tip to hold true in my own personal experiences, especially when I was a college student. Often times, those contacts who help guide your career path turn out to be the best connections. For me, connections like this allowed me to be surer of my career choices and opened up my mind to new possibilities.
Tip #4: While social networking sites sound like the most convenient way to keep in touch with such acquaintances, it is best to separate one’s personal life from one’s professional life. Things can get uncomfortable once your professional contact become privy to your social activities, especially if he or she is someone you’re looking to impress. You may want to keep your professional communications in a separate professional email address or via LinkedIn if those are places where you only post or talk about work. And in general, always be wary of what you post online.
Tip # 5: Pursue the opportunity to re-introduce yourself once you get a business card or contact information. We may be great at initiating the relationship with a new contact by calling or emailing the next day or shortly after the initial meeting. Then eventually we forget to stay in touch or we lose confidence. It’s important to build the professional relationship while the encounter is still fresh. If speaking on the phone is too daunting, email correspondence is a great way to build up to a more comfortable relationship.
Have any other tips in mind? Share them in the comments!