We all know how important having a professional network is to being successful. Last month, I wrote a blog post on building up your network as a project manager, because it can be particularly difficult when you’re constantly jumping from project to project.
But, there’s more to a network than just meeting people and making connections. You have to nurture and grow those connections. Otherwise, the people you put the effort into meeting will quickly shift from potential life-long connections, to strangers that you spoke to one time at an event. There are a few different things that you can do to make sure you’re maintaining the connections you make:
Keep in Touch With Old Project-Mates
This may feel intuitive, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t do this! The people that you’ve worked with are the most important part of your project management network. These are the people that know you best, and can accurately vouch for the type of work that you do, and your quality as an employee. Keep these people around; the last thing you want to do is fall victim of “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome. Stay on their mind!
- Keep a list of contact info for all of the people that you’ve worked with on various projects. This is important for future outreach.
- When you come across an article or interesting tidbit of knowledge that is relevant to one of your past colleagues, don’t be afraid to send it over! That small gesture will not only make the recipient feel special, it’ll help you to stick out in their mind as a thoughtful and intuitive person.
- Keep a note of birthdays or important dates for your old projectmates, and send personal emails or texts. It’s an easy way to stay on the forefront of people’s minds, while spreading positive energy to your old co-workers
Set Aside Time To Continue to Build Your Network
I recommend that you put aside at least one time slot a week to actively work on your network. This can look like any number of things, but just take the time out to network with people either in your current office, or people that you’ve met in the past.
- Schedule a lunch or dinner with someone from your network (someone you’ve worked with, or someone you met in passing)
- Take a few moments out of your day to go visit with a colleague somewhere in your current building
- Spend some time reaching out to people in your network reaching out via Linkedin, Email, etc.
Start now! Networking doesn’t have to be the daunting, uncomfortable task that it is so often described as. Think of a few people you’d like to reconnect with, and reach out. Happy networking!