3 reasons to contact your network to stay engaged and maintain connections

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One of the hardest things in building your network can be finding reasons to contact these people when you don’t have a “request”. After all, networking isn’t just about contacting them when you need something, like help, advice, or feedback; it’s about nurturing a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship.

Key principles of networking

Networks must have mutual benefit. It means you get value and I get value. Although the value we receive is not necessarily the same (i.e. I could help you find a job, but I don’t need a job. Therefore, you can give me back the same by giving me a glimpse of my current work or efforts).

They also need to be fed. To assume that you can connect with someone on LinkedIn and then three months later ask them to support you for a job is unrealistic. A professional relationship must be nurtured, cultivated and established to extract its true value.

Networks must also be well balanced. Not all of your networking contacts will be people who can hire or deal with you directly. Some will provide advice, mentorship or advice. Others will be more of a support network, giving you encouragement. Still others might offer you an influence to help you be successful or give you information you might not otherwise get.

Here are three reasons or excuses you could use to contact your network and engage them.

1. Update your network wherever you are.

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to contact people in your network just because you need something. This may include keeping them updated on your military-to-civilian transition, your job search, your career progression and your life.

Perhaps the person in your network has offered you some advice to help you find a viable post-military career. You could let them know how you are doing, what advice they gave that was the most meaningful, and what didn’t work.

2. Give them something of value.

Maybe someone in your network posted online that they were looking for an introduction to someone at a company you know well. You can reach out to that person and ask them more about their needs and even offer to facilitate the presentation if that seems appropriate to you.

3. Just save them.

During the pandemic everyone suddenly started working remotely, stress was at an all time high, and human connection was as hard to come by as toilet paper. Many professionals found themselves lacking in contacts and network connections. They may have been used to attending networking events, meetings, job fairs, and other in-person gatherings to connect human-to-human.

Checking in with someone in your network just to see how they get along, what their life is like, and what they look forward to for the rest of the year is a generous and thoughtful gesture that solidifies the relationship.

The point of networking is that you focus as much on helping and supporting those you network with as on what they can do for you. When you check that they’re okay, let them know how you’re doing and give them something of value (especially unexpected!). It strengthens the relationship. Then when you ask for something, they will be more likely to want to help you because you have invested in the relationship, not just sought to receive something from them.

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