Networking can be intimidating at any stage of career growth. However, it can be helpful to re-conceptualize networking as part of an ongoing process which extends beyond searching for a job or internship opportunity. Like any relationship, professional connections require energy and thought to stay nurtured. Here are a few ideas to keep your network active:
- Leverage your social media presence – Keep your LinkedIn and alumni network profiles up to date with graduation dates, job changes, and promotions. Often, these platforms will automatically notify your professional network when you update your profile. As you engage in new experiences or add skills to your toolbox, write a quick synopsis so you stand out to your connections.
- Keep track of your conversations – Although it may seem silly or inorganic, it helps to know when you last talked to an individual regarding your professional development. Referencing pieces of former conversations can remind the person you are talking with that they are more to you than just a professional connection. Project management platforms like Trello are great for this type of tracking, but a Google Doc or written list can work, too.
- Reach out when you are not in a time of transition – Rather than only reaching out to your network when you need their help, ask your connections to converse about other things – catch up, inquire about their families/work lives. This will build rapport and make those weighted conversations easier.
Like your career search, networking should feel personal and individualized to YOU! Treat the members of your network as friends that you would like to keep around, and be creative about how you put in the work to strengthen your relationships.