Professional Fridays: Staying in Touch with Your Network

In the professional world, time is tight, and business coffees, lunches, and after-work drinks can often seem a daunting task as you try to stay connected to all the people you meet at networking events, business meetings, and happy hours.  Perhaps you've even finished a summer internship, but know you won't be looking for a job for almost another year.  How do you stay in appropriate touch with someone you want to keep connected to, if you're not able to interact with them at the office every day?  Here are three ways to do it without being seen as needy or demanding: 1) Send articles.  Now that you've written a few personal details on the back of your new business card, keep those few facts in mind.  Let's say your contact attended college in South Carolina, and you know they stay involved with the school.  You come across a news item about their football team winning an important game.  Grab the link, paste it into an email, and send it along with a quick note - something like "just read about your team's victory - congratulations!" There are two great things about this technique: A) you demonstrate an interest in that person as a person, and not just as a professional connection, and B) it requires no work on their end.  They don't really need to respond, they don't need to engage with you if they're busy, and you don't end up being an annoying item on their to-do list.  This does ensure, however, that they recognize your name when it appears in their inbox. 2) Engage with them on Twitter What's great about Twitter is that it is so informal and so casual that it is one of the few places where you can engage with a new contact without feeling like a burden to them.  Try retweeting the links they send out to articles they've written or projects their organization/company is involved in.  Otherwise, respond to their questions or statements, show support for their opinions, or direct them to further resources you may know of.  Of course, don't forget to mention them on Follow Friday (#FF) as well! 3) Promote Yourself This is perhaps the hardest one for young women in particular.  Share the news of your successes.  Earn a promotion? Win an award?  Get a mention in a media outlet? Send an email around to your contacts updating them on big news in your life.  It doesn't have to be long - and in fact, shouldn't be.  A few simple sentences expressing your delight at having received XYZ honor, and a link to the announcement or article, is sufficient.   Just like sharing a news article with your contact, this is a way to stay on their radar without requiring them to do anything other than shoot back a quick reply saying 'congrats!" The life of a bustling young professional can be chaotic, moving from one position and event and opportunity to the next like lightening.  But networking is about nothing if not long-term relationship building, and it'll be important for your future in the working world to stay in touch with people who will become strong advocates for your success.

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