When I was new to the working world and career world, I would always hear the same advice over and over again. That advice was “make sure you keep in touch with previous employers, co-workers and people you meet”. Even though I heard this advice time and time again, I feel like I wasn’t really listening. The thought of networking or making connections was just very daunting and I felt that as a shy girl, who wasn’t the most sociable I would never have “connections” and boy was I wrong!
It took me a while to realize that no matter your personality or path in life or chosen career industry, you are bound to meet people, whether you call them connections or friends or simply acquaintances, you are going to meet people along your career journey.
As I got older I realized the value that people have. Apart from having value that could potentially help you in your career someday, people are just valuable in general.
Now, that I have been in the working world for over 10 years, I have learned to let go of my fears and hold on to the people I’ve met along the way. Even if I don’t talk to them for months or even years, they are valuable and I know that I can always learn from them in many ways.
Today, I wanted to write this blog post for all my career girls (and guys) out there who are not sure how to start cultivating relationships in your professional life. My #1 piece of advice is to start as early as possible. This means that if you’re in college, start now! The earlier you start, the better.
There are many simple ways that you can ensure your “connections” always remember you. Here are 5 ways you can do this. These are simple but, I honestly feel that they are effective.
- The happy birthday text/email. Now I can’t take full credit for this one because I did learn it from my previous boss, Lauren Berger, over at Intern Queen but I do remember that she would always give this piece of advice. I mean who doesn’t feel special when someone reaches out and says happy birthday? This little gesture is a fun way to stay in touch with people you’ve met.
- Share your accomplishments via email. This one is another good one. Are you moving houses? Did you graduate? Did you accomplish something fun worth sharing? Seeing as we all spend a lot of time on email, it’s always nice to see that email from a past acquaintance, friend, co-worker, you name it. I personally have received these emails from time to time and I 100% guarantee you that they put a smile on my face.
- Engaging through social media and/or LinkedIN: Ok serious question. How many of you have a LinkedIN account? If your answer was no, then make sure you read my post where I share 5 LinkedIN Tips with you. LinkedIn is such an easy way to stay in touch. It doesn’t take effort and you get to see what your connections are up to in their professional lives. Staying engaged with their content is an easy way to stay in touch.
- Send a postcard or thank you note: I think this is a fun way for you to stay in touch with previous connections because it’s different. In such a technological world, it’s not very often that people receive physical mail and when they do, I feel that it is much appreciated. I also feel that a lot of people that receive these nice postcards or thank you notes often display them on their desk or around their workspace. Perfect way for them to remember you especially if they are seeing something you sent them on an everyday basis 😉
- Congratulate them on something they have achieved: This one is also a very big one and you can certainly do this various ways. If a person you worked with before, or a professor or just anyone else you know, gets a promotion or an award or achieves something worth celebrating, congratulate them. It’s as easy as “Hi (Insert Name), Hope you are well. Congratulations on your promotion. Keep up the good work.”
So, how often should you stay in touch with your connections? I’ve heard 2-3 times per year (unless there are more times than that where you can engage with them through the various ways I shared above).
Honestly, staying in touch with people doesn’t mean that you’re only doing so because you’ll need something from them someday. It’s a way to keep up in touch with people whom you’ve come across in your career. I look at it as a way for me to learn from them and maybe they will also learn something from me.