Are You Keeping in Touch with Your Network?

phone-499991_1280 for keeping in touchIf you’re not, you’re not a good networker– you’ll miss opportunities! Getting meetings (and then “acing” these meetings) is 50% of what you need to do. Keeping in touch following these meetings is the other 50%.

If, in your first meeting with them, you find there are no opportunities available now, keep in touch for when something opens up either in their organization or perhaps with one of their colleagues. Clients routinely land interviews, jobs and consulting assignments because they keep top-of-mind with their network. When a network contact suddenly has a need, or knows of someone who does, you want them to think of you. Plus, building relationships over time inspires a greater willingness to help based on the foundation of trust you have established.

Don’t make the mistake of a job-search client who came to me after looking fruitlessly for a year. I asked her about her search. She said “About a year ago, I had a lot of great informational meetings with people who could hire me.” I said, well what happened? She said “well I lost touch with them after we met.” If she had kept in touch with these contacts she would in all likelihood have already been offered the jobs she was seeking, and would never have needed to see me!

If you are actively looking for an opportunity, plan on reaching out to your network every three to six weeks, with the goal of simply reminding them you exist. When you are happily employed aim for once every three to six months. The goal is not to ask them for anything again, you already did that in your first meeting. Instead, just remind them you’re around so if something comes up, they think of you.

So how do you keep in touch? Four ways:

  1. Send them a link to something interesting. Only do this if the link is really helpful to them. Otherwise, you are going to waste their time, and effectively show them how you can “hurt” them, not help them.
  2. Share “additional thoughts.” For example, you might send an email that says something like “High Susan, thanks again for meeting with me last month, it was great talking with you! Since we last spoke I’ve had additional thoughts about x that I wanted to share with you…”
  3. Post and read LinkedIn updates. The LinkedIn update feature is a great way to keep in touch, provided that you have a “quality” network (i.e. a network of people you actually know, so you might care about each others’ updates). Go to your Home page on LinkedIn and you will see the window for adding an update near the top. The updates of your entire network are located just below this window.A client recently landed an interview using this feature by posting “Having meetings with senior executives in for-profit education on the West Coast.” Someone in his LinkedIn network saw the update and connected him with one of his target organizations. I personally obtained business by noticing a former colleague’s LinkedIn update regarding his job title change. I messaged him to congratulate him on this obvious promotion, even though we hadn’t spoken in more than five years. He messaged me back, we met for coffee, and I ended up doing some work for his company (I describe how to build a quality LinkedIn network, LinkedIn updates, and many more advanced features of LinkedIn in my book Advanced LinkedIn).
  4. Just simply update them on how you are doing! Here’s an example:

Subject: Hello and Update

Hi Ben,
Hope things are well with you and that you had a nice vacation. Thanks again for meeting with me last month! Thought I would update you on how things are going with my search as it’s been a while.

I’ve met with TechCompany1, as well as some other Information Technology firms. The conversations have been interesting, and may result in something down the road. In the meantime, I continue to reach out to companies and people in my marketing plan.

If there is anything I can do for you, including introducing you to people in my LinkedIn network, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Note, in this message, there was nothing about “what’s the status?” or “heard anything lately?” Your recipient already knows what you want, and it sounds insecure and pushy to bring it up again. Plus now you are asking them to do unnecessary work, that is, “requiring” them to respond when there may be nothing now. Just use this note to simply keep yourself on their radar and remind them that you exist.

In addition, notice how in this example the email ends with an offer to help the recipient. That’s a nice touch. Give and you shall receive—not only does it work, but it’s a nice way to live!