We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: relationship networking can help land you your dream job, and it can be the key to a successful career. We hope you’ve been listening to us and that you have developed your own networking practice. (Need a reminder? Read our article on becoming a networking master).
Now that you have curated a few solid professional relationships, here are a few tips on how to nurture and maintain them. Yep, just like a personal relationship, a healthy professional relationship needs a bit of TLC to be fruitful and beneficial to both parties.
1. Communicate often
When you hear of something that may interest a professional connection, whether it’s a job lead, a business opportunity, or just a piece of news that he or she could benefit from, share it. While your tendency could be to process and let go of information that does not directly serve you, always think of its networking value. Sharing information with someone opens the doors for them to share something in return. With each exchange, the relationship is strengthened.
2. Make introductions
When you meet someone new, keep your current professional relationships in mind. Could they possibly help each other if they knew each other? Referrals go a long way in the business world. When you sense that introducing one professional contact to another might be beneficial to one or both parties, go for it—they will both have you to thank! They may return the favor down the road by introducing you to someone key to your career
3. Meet up
While email works well for professional communication, a face-to-face meeting can be invaluable. Devote an hour once a month to grab coffee with a professional relationship just to check in, offer help or brainstorm with the person. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, is well known for his love of breakfast meetings and the idea of “relentless networking.” If it works for the guy who founded the largest online professional networking site, it can work for you!
Sharing information, sourcing solid referrals and being there (in person) for your professional connections builds trust and rapport, so don’t be shy! Be proactive, and you’ll find yourself on the right track to richer professional relationships and a broader, stronger professional network.