You probably have a drawer full of business cards, hundreds of LinkedIn connections and email addresses. Anyone of those contacts could hold the key to your next opportunity. But you don’t know which one. This means you need to find ways to stay in contact with as many as possible.
Here are nine ways to keep in touch with people you know and make yourself memorable.
1. Not Just Christmas Cards. It seems everyone sends a holiday card in December. Don’t get lost in the crowd. Instead, send holiday greetings for off-holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Groundhog Day.
2. Pay Attention to Birthdays. Social media’s prompting reminders have made it easier to remember to send birthday cheer. Go a step above by sending birthday cards through the mail. It takes just that much more thought and effort and is more memorable.
3. Say Congratulations. When your contacts are mentioned or published in the news, congratulate them on the good public relations. You can use Google Alerts or Social Mention to customize the news updates on people and companies in your network.
4. Turn Bad into Good. Remember that job you were a runner-up for? Don’t give up. One way to stay in front of them is to send your contact a follow-up email or letter about three months after the new hire started. Sincerely express your hope that all is going well and that you would always be open to future conversations.
5. Share Useful News. Sending a message that says, “just checking in!” can feel like a waste of time for you and the person receiving it. Share a tidbit of useful and current news. Perhaps there are changes in regulations or policies with the industry; why not share these with those in your network who need to know?
6. Pick Up the Phone. Sometimes, just picking up the phone for a quick check-in can be a welcome surprise. Try calling first thing in the morning, at lunch or at the end of the day, when people are more likely to be near the phone and not in meetings. If you get voice mail, leave a short message with your name and phone number, and share a snip-it of interesting information.
7. Write a Recommendation. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to recommend a past colleague, service provider or client. When someone receives an unsolicited recommendation, it is a welcome surprise.
8. Connect People. Do you know two people you think would benefit from meeting each other? Be a matchmaker and introduce them. Send one email to both people and explain why you think they would benefit from meeting. Provide enough information so each person can understand the potential in the relationship and know how to research and contact one another.
9. Invite Along. The next time you receive an invitation to an event or fundraiser, consider inviting one of your contacts to join you. Just be sure it is a cause you both support.
Create your database now. Add important information about your network contacts like birthdays, names of partners/spouses, children, college attended, organizations, interests, favorite food and so on. You can use a formal customer relationship management system, or a simple Excel spreadsheet.
Carve Out Time
Put reminders to send outreach and important dates on your calendar. Here are some suggestions:
Weekly: Check LinkedIn and Facebook notifications for work anniversaries and birthdays.
Monthly: Plan the outreach for the month- who do you need to touch base with and what will you do.
Annually: Evaluate the strength of your network? Have you done enough to stay in touch?
Staying in contact with the people often falls to the bottom of everyone’s to-do lists. But, with a bit of planning and dash of creativity, you can nurture your network.
Rick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice
Rick has been a career consultant for almost 30 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.
Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.
Contact Rick at: Rick@CareerDevelopmentPartners.com