With National Networking Week coming to an end, you may have recently had the opportunity to meet some valuable new contacts.
Of course, meeting, greeting and connecting with people in a networking context is just half the work – it’s what you do next that really counts.
So in one final celebration of National Networking Week, here are five tips on how to maintain long-lasting professional connections:
1. Take the time to form strong, genuine, trusting relationships
People often fall into the trap of only networking when they need a job or want something from the other person. Don’t wait until you’re desperate – start networking and forming relationships now so that you can focus on building and nurturing the relationship. If you’re ever in need of professional support in the future, you can then call on your existing foundation of close connections.
2. Add new contacts on LinkedIn and send a personalised message
With over 300 million users, LinkedIn has become the place-to-be for professionals in all industries. If you have recently met new contacts and want to continue the relationship, add them on LinkedIn and show you’re interested in connecting further. Sending a personalised message is always a great touch as it helps to show that you’re serious about building the relationship.
3. Stay in touch – send them interesting articles, research or job opportunities
Like any relationship, a professional connection needs to be built over mutual trust and common ground. An easy way to do this is to make an effort to share relevant articles, research papers or professional opportunities with your contact. This could be as simple as emailing them a research paper you think would be useful for their role or inviting them to an industry event.
4. Introduce them to useful contacts within your own network
Consider whether your new contact may benefit from an introduction with another one of your close connections. By offering to connect them with others within your own personal network, you’re showing that you genuinely care and are willing to go that extra mile. As they say, what comes around goes around – this generous act may be reciprocated in the future.
5. If they help you out – show your appreciation and keep the connection strong
Networking is about forming genuine, long-lasting relationships built on mutual benefit. So if you’re going to invest in the relationship, don’t just let the connection loose after you’ve benefitted in some way. Always thank your contact for their advice or support and, for example, if they’ve helped you get an interview, follow up with them afterwards so they feel involved and appreciated.
As you can see, networking should never be defined as one single event.
It is an ongoing activity that takes sincere thought, effort and time, especially if you want to build a strong, diverse, long-lasting network that you can rely on.
By using these five tips as a foundation, you can rest easy knowing you’re doing your best to maintain your new connections – these relationships will then have a better opportunity to grow or evolve naturally over time.