Have you ever noticed that a lot of your success and growth comes down to who you know? For instance, according to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, nearly 80 percent of job openings are not publicly advertised, which means all those business cards you’ve collected and all those contacts you’ve saved in your phone are extremely important.
While professional networking plays a huge role in an individual’s or company’s success, it’s how you approach it that makes the difference. Staying in touch with old colleagues and clients can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to come off as intrusive or stalker-ish. Below, we’ve come up with a few genuine ways to grow your professional network without being annoying.
Show Your Gratitude
If one of your connections helped you solve a problem or inspired you to do something great, show your gratitude by sending them something special. It doesn’t have to be a major deal – handwritten notes or branded promotional products make great tokens of appreciation.
If you don’t have time to send a handwritten note, a heartfelt email or tagged social media post will suffice. If sending a gift, be sure it’s something useful and thoughtful so the recipient knows how much you value their help.
Use Social Media
Yes! A reason to use social media in the workplace. As you scroll through your feed on Facebook or LinkedIn, take a moment to acknowledge posts made by your professional contacts. Make short comments or press the “Like” button to get your name on their radar from time to time.
The nice thing about social media is that not only do your contacts see you, but their contacts see you, too, which may pay off in the future.
Make Regular Check-ins
For close contacts or ones that just don’t use social media (believe it or not, not everyone does), conduct regular check-ins via email. The note doesn’t have to be lengthy – just a “Hi, how are you doing?” or “Thought of you when I read this article.” Try to reach out once every other month or so to keep your name on their screen in a friendly, unobtrusive way.
If you have a hard time remembering to do such things, try using a networking app. There are plenty on the market, each one designed to keep tabs on your network and let you know when it’s time to contact someone again. Most apps will even draft the email for you, though you will want to personalize it before you hit “send.”
Schedule Small Get-Togethers
Individual face-to-face meetings with former colleagues or clients aren’t always practical, so schedule small get-togethers with contacts who know each other or could benefit from knowing each other. A casual lunch or happy hour at the local pub can be a fun, casual way to stay in touch with select professional contacts.
Keep Your Contact List Up to Date
Life happens. People get married, change jobs, move away, etc. As you get notice of a contact’s information changing, be sure to update your contact list. Your contact list should include each person’s full name, what they do, and how you met.
Also, make sure any website or page that includes information about you is up to date. These pages are where others turn to find you, so it’s important they have accurate information.
Your professional network is vital in helping you grow and succeed. Keeping in touch without appearing too needy or obtrusive can be tricky, but with these helpful tips, you should be able to grow your network without being annoying.
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