Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Career Network Safety Net: 3 Tips for Keeping It Strong

By choosing a career you enjoy, you’re more likely to pay attention to it. You’ll give your career path the care and upkeep it needs. Part of keeping your skills current and in demand is knowing your industry and having a strong personal network – people who serve as a sounding board, give you information what’s going on with other employers, teach you new skills, and set an example you want to follow.

A career network safety net includes people who support and strengthen you in your career, with whom you stay in touch and connect.

Here are 3 tips for keeping your network strong:
  1. Don’t wait until you need something to make contact. Try to set up regular contacts – whether through a coffee date, an email newsletter, attending a group networking meeting, or a phone call.
  2. Offer to help when someone needs it, even if you think you don’t have time for it or you think they don't need your help. If someone loses their job or has a personal crisis, try to find a way you can help – even if it’s just a phone call to lend support. You know how karma works…
  3. Set a monthly goal for maintaining your network. Whether it is attending a networking function or making one phone call, doing something will keep you from killing the goose that lays the golden egg – your network.
I thought of this topic because over the last few months I’ve heard from friends and colleagues I haven’t heard from in awhile (and with whom I have not stayed in regular contact). It reminded me that in times of crisis and uncertainty, it’s your relationships to people that matter the most. People who listen (who you trust not to share your information with the world) and people who are sources for job search advice and connections. People with whom you've built rapport.

I need to improve my attention to my personal and professional relationships – maybe you do too. Let's remember to regularly reach out to our friends and colleagues in our weekly/monthly/yearly goal setting.

P.S. Having trouble tracking and categorizing your networking contacts? Read this blog post by social media expert Chris Brogan.

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