They say that who you know sometimes matters more than what you know or how hard you work. While hard work and knowledge can help your career, it’s also important to network. Maintaining your career network — even when you currently have a job — is vital in the current economy.
Reasons to Maintain Your Career Network
One of the most important reasons to maintain your career network is the fact that you might not have the same job your entire life. There are estimates that indicate that many people go through at least seven careers over the course of a lifetime.
Not only might you decide that you want to move on to another career, but you might also lose your job outright. It’s not unusual in the current climate to find yourself without a job, or with severely cut hours.
Since you never know when this will happen, you need to be prepared with a career network already intact. The time to build your career network is not when your job is in danger; you should already have a career network to turn to by the time you reach that point.
Another reason to maintain your career network is that you might hear of other opportunities. Sometimes, career advancement comes when you receive unexpected knowledge. It might be a chance to start a business with a partner, or a job opening that you might not have seen without the intervention of someone in your career network.
Maintaining a career network is a good way to stay “plugged in” to what’s happening in your industry, and to help you keep up with possibilities you might not even have been aware of. Without your career network, you might not even know what’s out there.
Your career network can also provide you with access to mentors. You might be surprised at what you can learn from others, even if you aren’t actively searching for a new job. You can learn a lot from a mentor who is willing to help you improve over time. On top of that, your career network can also provide you with opportunities to mastermind projects, and get tips and pointers on a variety of subjects. Your career network is a great way to improve yourself, and get useful feedback from others.
How to Maintain Your Career Network
You know your career network is important, so that means you need to maintain it. If you want to maintain your career contacts over time, here are some things you can do to stay connected:
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- Remain visible: First of all, you need to remain visible in your career network. This means interacting with your career network on social media, and sending occasional emails to members of your career network.
- Stay involved: Don’t forget to stay involved with members of your career network. This can include going out on occasion with members of your network, forming a mastermind group with some of them, or just chatting with them on Skype occasionally.
- Show interest: Rule number one of getting people interested in you is to show interest in them. You don’t have to be best buddies with members of your career network, but ask how they are doing on occasion, whether it’s sending a quick email message, replying to a tweet, or commenting on something post on Facebook.
- Be helpful: If you want others to help you, you need to help them. Remember to provide help and guidance when possible. When you show that you are willing to help others, they will be more interested in helping you. It doesn’t have to be a direct exchange, either. You can answer a question for someone in your network, and later someone else will likely help you out. It’s all about showing yourself accessible and willing to give as well as take.
- Invite others: Don’t forget to invite others to the group. Be welcoming of new members to your mastermind group or to your circle of influence. You never know when a new contact can help you — or when you can help someone else.
With a little effort, it’s possible to maintain the connections that can help you find your next job.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.