Relationships Matter: How to Build & Maintain Your Network

Whether you are still in school or advancing in a company, the mentors and connections you’ve made are some of your strongest assets to help you succeed in your current position and advance in the future. The Find & Follow Your Passion panel Relationships Matter: How to Build & Maintain Your Network discussed steps you can take to start these relationships, and maintain them for years in the future.

The panel included and Tim McDonald, Community Manager at HuffPostLive, Carla Marie Monica, producer at Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, Gleana Albritton, digital and off-air video marketer at AMC/Sundance Channel Global,  Conz Preti, Social Media Editor at Univision News, and moderator Nick Schweers, publicist at Quinn & Co.

Nick Schweers, Conz Preti, Tim McDonald, Carla Marie, and Gleana Albritton.  

Meeting someone at an event

Let’s say you’re at a conference or panel, and you want to reach out to a speaker and build a relationship with them after the event. First things first, prepare what you will say to the person before you meet them. As Carla mentioned, when you approach the person you should have more to share with them than just a business card. Is there a particular issue you’d like their insight on? Or perhaps you’d like to schedule an informational interview. Let them know why you want to connect, and what you hope to gain from the relationship.

Networking via Social Media

Every person has a personal preference when it comes to online communication channels. Conz suggested doing your research to see which tool the person you’d like to connect with uses the most. Since Carla works on a radio show, she would be perfectly happy responding to a tweet about her outfit, while other professionals might have more conservative online communication habits. The field the person works in may have an impact on this as well. Tim loves using Google Hangouts to connect with others, and Conz restricts her LinkedIn connections to only people she’s met in person. (Remember, with LinkedIn it’s always important to send a personalized message to a possible connection reminding them who you are and how you have met before.)

Developing relationships at an internship

If you work hard to help others, those people will often want to work hard to help you. Gleana oversees several interns at her job. She recently worked with an intern that was dedicated and hardworking at all times. Gleana has built a relationship with this intern, and is now willing to do anything she can to help the her get placed in a job.

Carla has received several emails from interns in different departments at her radio station asking if they could have an informational interview or grab lunch with her, even if they didn’t work directly in her department. She is often happy to do this, and appreciates interns that take initiative and reach out of their comfort zone to connect with her.

Reaching out to the right person for a job or internship application

Tim has a simple rule; never submit your resume through a website without contacting someone at the organization first. With so much company information now online, there is no excuse not to find and email a relevant contact before sending an online application.  You may feel hesitant to send a “cold email” to an employee that you have never met before, but as Tim mentioned, an email should never be “cold”. If you do your research on the individual and the company, the email will sound well researched and the person reading it should appreciate that.

If after much searching you still aren’t able to find a particular person to contact, you can even try sending a tweet to the corporate twitter handle. Conz handles the twitter account for Univision News, and she share tweets with other employees when relevant.

Finding and maintaining mentors

There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of having mentors in the workforce, but finding a mentor does not have to be forced. Carla reminded us that all of her mentor and mentee relationships were created naturally over time. One of her mentors is a college professor, another is someone who once helped her read over her resume.

You don’t have to keep in touch with your mentors every week or even every month, but Conz suggested always keeping an open channel of conversation. Email your college professors to let them know how you are doing, or grab lunch with an old internship coordinator. It is just as important to maintain a relationship as it is to build on in the first place.

Where have you built your strongest professional relationships? Do you have any advice on how to stay in touch with mentors? Let us know below in the comments.

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