Monday, May 13, 2013

Staying in Touch - a 5-Step Model for Staying in Touch Once You've Landed

When clients land their new job, I ask them this question: “What are you going to do with your new-found network?  You know, that network of contacts that you built during the course of your job search.”
    “Stay in touch?” clients say.
“How?”  I ask.
    “I don’t know,” they say.

"Well, here's how . . . . . . . . . "

During your search, you worked hard to build a network of professionals, colleagues, service providers, hobbyists, friends, and even family members who helped you in some way during your search.  And, chances are, it was information provided by one of these folks that helped you identify the link that led to your new job.  As you reflect on your search, you can see that your network has developed into a valuable resource.  You don’t want to treat a resource as valuable as this cavalierly.

Keep your visibility high
In my article, You’ve Got the Job . . . Now What?  – 10 Tips for Staying Marketable, I suggest you pro-actively manage both your public professional and internal company professional profile.  One way to do this is to keep your visibility high by staying in touch with your network, and continuing to add to that network.  It’s a kind of insurance: While it won’t guarantee you’ll never lose another job, it has been proven to be the best insurance to finding another more quickly.

In it for the long-haul . . . . .
Now that you have landed in a new job or role:
  1. Begin to think of your network as a resource for the long-haul.  
  2. Think too, how you can also be of value to your network.  
Networking is a 2-way street: they help you and you help them, and you are glad to do so.

So, what are some ways to keep your network current, active, and a dynamic part of how you go about managing your career?  Here is a 5-step method for managing your network.

Managing your network - A 5-Step Model
STEP 1:  Make a list.
Make a list of the people with whom you came into contact during your job search.  Make it a
comprehensive list - include everyone who helped in any way.  This help could range from just being a friendly ear to listen to you during the tough times, to those who provided leads to opportunities. 

STEP 2:  List the types of help you received.
Turn your list into a table and list how people helped.  For instance, they may have helped by: 
    - providing leads,
    - introducing you to people  – the person who is "in the know" and/or knows everyone
    - sharing knowledge about good companies to work for
    - being a good listener
    - encouraging you to keep going and boosting your spirits
    - challenging you, making you think more critically about your job search strategy
    - being a friend to lean on
    - helping with the logistics of your search. . . .

STEP 3:  Now, rank their assistance to you on a scale of 0 - 5.
Ask yourself, how helpful was the assistance or help provided?  Is this someone I want to stay in touch with in the future?  Rank the value on your table (0 being of no valuable, and 5 being most valuable).

STEP 4:  Get back in touch . . . . . . with a heartfelt “Thank You!”
Everyone on your list who was helpful in any way, no matter how small, deserves a written Thank You, that:
  1. Expresses your gratitude
  2. Notes how much you value their assistance and what it meant to you
  3. Shares basic information about your new job - company name, your title, duties, etc.
  4. Says that you would like to stay in touch
  5. AND – this is big –  offers to be of assistance anytime you can be helpful to them!
Make it special:  For those you found especially helpful to you, do more.  Some possibilities include sending a gift, a personal visit to say Thanks, or taking them out to lunch or dinner.  For these special folks, who went above and beyond, make your heartfelt Thank You special!

STEP 5: Decide how you will stay in touch!
Finally, decide on ways to stay in touch.  Go back to Step 3.  Highlight your most valuable contacts  –  Use
your discretion, these may be ranked by 4s and 5s.  Those of moderate value may be ranked by 2s or 3s.  Minimal to no value contacts may rank as 0's or 1's.
  1. For those contacts you deem most valuable, you may want to stay in touch with a quarterly or semi-annul lunch meeting, a coffee meeting, or a call.  
  2. For those of moderate value, an e-mail sent 3 times a year to say how you’re doing and inquiring about them may be adequate.  
  3. For those of minimal or no value, a once yearly e-mail, or a holiday card, maintains your visibility.
Maintaining your Network = Managing your Career  --  No one will do it for you!
Maintaining your network is integral to managing your career pro-actively.  Don’t count on anyone  – no matter what they say –  to do it for you!

Taking the time to stay in touch in a meaningful way, and to continue to build new contacts into your network is a smart move!  While it won’t keep you from losing another job  –  although it can help prevent it  –  it will ensure that should that time come, you are well-positioned to launch a search culminating in finding a better job quicker!

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
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