Career development hinges on where you have been, where you are, and where you want to go on your professional journey. Inevitably, however, there are a multitude of other people involved in the process. Whether you’re reaching out to your LinkedIn or alumni network, conducting an informational interview, taking advantage of a mock interview, or interviewing for a potential internship or job, the key players are those who take the time out of their work schedules to facilitate your growth.
The manner in which you interact with these individuals is critical to maintaining valuable professional connections. Oft-forgotten is that the manner in which you practice gratitude is imperative to transforming those interactions from transactional to relational. Here are some things to remember about practicing authentic gratitude while networking:
Keep it simple: Thank-you’s don’t need to be complicated, so no need for elaborate acts. A brief thank-you email or hand-written thank-you note (remember, snail mail is a dying art!) will do the trick.
Shift your mindset: Networking can be a demanding process, but expressing gratitude doesn’t have to add to the burnout! Instead of thinking of this as another to-do list item, re-frame the situation and remember that you are genuinely thanking an individual because they have helped you in one way or another.
You know authenticity best: The good thing about “authenticity” is that it is individual to you. Be yourself by noting distinct moments in a call/interaction that really meant something to you. Did you discover a new connection or insight through the conversation? Be specific when describing what you took away from the interaction.
Authentic gratitude is important in the career development process because it is polite, but also because it helps you stand out. An act of gratitude towards key players in your professional life can remind them that you want your connection with them to be a relationship moving forward.