Networking, networking, networking. It’s one of the most emphasized job search methods out there. The problem: most job seekers who think they’re networking aren’t actually accomplishing anything.
It’s not enough to connect on social media and then forget about them. Stay in the minds of your professional network by keeping in touch on a regular basis.
Here are five ways to stay in touch with your professional network:
Social media. True, it’s not enough to simply add someone as a social media connection, but social media is still important.
Facebook and Twitter allow you to share content directly with the people in your network. Use them to send interesting articles to the professionals who might find them relevant. LinkedIn keeps track of changes in your connections’ careers. Pay attention to these updates and congratulate people in your network when they get a promotion or start something new.
Email. Sending an email to someone is much more direct and personal than social media. Email is more likely to result in a back-and-forth conversation, so take advantage of it.
Like with social media, you can start a conversation with an article or some congratulations. Another idea is to let them know when you start something new or accomplish something important, and ask them for advice.
Phone calls. Sometimes a quick phone call is all it takes to learn something new.
Call up your contact and say, “Hey, I’m really interested in learning more about this part of your job. Would you chat for a bit to share insights on how you do it?” If they have the time, they’ll probably talk to you. If they’re busy, chances are they’ll tell you to call back when they have the time. Either way, be prepared with questions to ask.
Greeting cards. A fun way to reach out to people is by sending greeting cards.
A simple handwritten note is all it takes. It can be to say thank you or even for a holiday. Send these to people you have connected with in the past, or people you have just met. No matter who you send these to, be sure to thank them for their time.
Invite them out. Whether it’s lunch or just coffee, face-to-face communication is always the best way build and maintain a relationship.
Do research beforehand and come ready to discuss the latest trends your industry. Have a strategy and goals for the conversation. What do you hope to gain from your meeting? Ask for career advice. If you show you want more than just a connection to a job, most professionals will be happy to help.
When you keep in touch with your professional network, they are much more likely to help you out when it’s time to look for a new job. Maintain a genuine relationship with these people and the rest will be easy.
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.