- Recognize the value a network offers. When you recognize the value a network offers, you will be more motivated to stay in touch. Wouldn’t it be great to hear about a job while employed? Of course! And it will only happen if your contacts remember you and what your expertise is. Or what about when you need references? Having a network of great references can be a huge plus.
- Develop a system for reaching out. Perhaps start with the past colleagues, and make a point to call, email or meet up for coffee. Share your updates on how your current job is going, and what your thoughts on your future are.
- Join a professional group. One of the lessons you may have learned during your search was that you need to stay up to date on trends in your occupation and industry. By joining a professional group you will stay up-to-date on trends and have the opportunity to meet others in your field.
- Choose a mentor. A relationship with a mentor provides you with firsthand feedback and knowledge to refine your career. This mentor could be someone from your company or from outside of your organization. Both have pros and cons, so you could choose one of each. The advantage to having more than one mentor is that you don’t feel like you are asking for too much from either one. One mentor may be able to help you navigate internal policies and politics. The other may be more helpful in helping you plot your career course.
- Never lose touch with recruiters. If you developed a working relationship with a recruiter, definitely reach out to them. Let the recruiter know you are considering a job change, and to keep you updated. Tell the recruiter you would like to be contacted if there is an opening that fits your background. If nothing else, you may know of people who would be a good fit for the job if you aren’t, and recruiters appreciate referrals.
- Give back. You now have greater empathy for those who are hunting for a new job. Remember how difficult your search was? The ups and downs? Offer to help current job seekers by sharing your experience and lessons learned. And most of all teach them about the importance of building a network!
You’ve learned how challenging it is to build your network so don’t wait until the next job change to get started. When you have existing relationships, it feels much easier to ask for help, advice or information. This is why it is so important to continue to nurture and grow your network for long-term career success.