Career development is all personal. People do not hire resumes. People do not connect with texts or emails. It’s always been, and probably always will be, human contact that matters. Paper and electronic communication should be tools to create human contact or to maintain relationships.
Notice I did not say that evil word, networking. Not sure why but the word networking causes anxiety with some people. Maybe it is too stuffy or old school. Regardless of why it doesn’t resonate with many people, I have begun calling it “relationship building”.
Think of relationship building as the drip on your faucet. You can fill a sink with a dripping faucet but it will take awhile. Relationship building does not happen by “turning on the faucet”. The friends you have today did not happen because you walked up to a perfect stranger and HUGGED them 🙂 Oh my…that is a visual, isn’t it? I can only imagine my hockey buddy Pete running away from me the first time we meet and I hug him.
Your personal relationships took time to develop and your professional ones will too. Here are some things to think about as you consider your professional relationship building. I recommend taking a few minutes each week and focus on one of these areas…drip…drop…drip…drop.
No matter where you are in the process, start with one more connection. Don’t send a blast to all 345 people in your address book…one drip at a time 🙂 *Maybe your friends won’t appreciate being called a “drip” so don’t tell them that.
- On LinkedIn, you can simply think about people you worked for or with, and search them. Are there friends or even family members that you, and they, might benefit from connecting? When you find them always change the standard LI request to something personal. Not too long, but say why you are connecting.
Hi Jack, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you and I am interested in reconnecting here on LinkedIn. Hope all is well. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Keep it simple and use your own voice, be real, be yourself.
2. When people connect with you on LinkedIn or Twitter (wherever you are), take a minute and send them a “thanks for connecting” reply. If you can add any other relevant comments “How is that old labrador retriever doing?” or “I look forward to learning more about what you do” it will feel more like a relationship than a simple LI connection.
- Occasionally I will look through my contacts or groups I am involved with and reach out to ask if one of them would be willing to set up a Skype, FaceTime, or phone call to discuss a project I am working on. Recently I asked two people to brainstorm some ideas with me using Skype. It was an awesome way to reconnect with two people I had not seen in a long time and to seek some advice. (Thanks Patrick and Beth!)
- I have been inspired to continue sending out thank you cards by Jimmy Fallon who sends thank you cards every Friday. I have a reminder that pops up on my calendar the third Saturday of every month to remind me to go through my contacts and think about who I can thank.
- Look at the LI suggestions they give you (Twitter does too) and scroll through the list. Often I find people who I “thought” I was connected with but am not. These are your “warm connections” that are easy to add.
- Look through your first connections and click on their “Connections” (Go to your 1st connection and simply click on their “connections” in the lower right of their picture). Browse here and you may find people you already know but more importantly, you may find people you would like to connect with. You can:
– ask your 1st connection to introduce you
– see if you are in any similar groups. If you are, you can message them within the group
– request to connect here, but remember this is more of a “cold connect” because they don’t know you, be sure and explain why you want to connect
– e-mail them or call their office to set up an informational meeting seeking advice and getting to know them. (If you can find an email, it’s always good to start with that knowing how busy people are). After you meet with the person, you can ask to connect on LI.
So whether you have started working on your professional relationships or not, think of it as a ‘drip…drop..drip…drop’ and take a few minutes each week or whenever you are inspired and add a couple people to your network or contact existing ones.
Here is another blog of mine on this topic of maintaining your network.
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a monthly newsletter for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
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