In this new blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.
We know what you are thinking… After you land that great new job or internship, you can stop networking. Well, not exactly. This surprises some people (and maybe disappoints them), but the best time to network is when you are not seeking a job.
Networking when you are working can be helpful for a variety of reasons:
- Keeps you visible in the job market and within your company: You never know when you will be looking for a different role or when somebody in your network will hear about your dream job.
- Enables you to reciprocate your network’s helpfulness: You can give back to your contacts in exchange for the help you received while you were conducting your job search.
- Provides new learning opportunities: You can hear about innovations or challenges in other companies and how they are being addressed.
We know that you are busy and your main focus should be excelling at your new role. However, here are a few strategies to help you carve out the time to grow and maintain your network:
- Track your network.
- Make notes on each contact, including where you met and what you have discussed; his/her profession, industry, schooling, and relationship to you; and the date of your last contact as well as when/how you will reach out again. Prioritize or categorize your network so you can figure out how to best allocate your time.
- Set goals for reconnecting. The frequency with which you reach out to your contacts will depend on a variety of factors, including how close you are to them, their seniority, the opportunity for mutual benefit, and their role/area of focus.
- Audit your networking tracking sheet every six months to a year to determine if it is still up to date and accurate.
- Determine the amount of time you want to spend (and have available for) networking. Perhaps you can allocate one hour a week or maybe two hours a month for networking. Add this task to your calendar; do not assume you will just find the time during the week.
- Attend networking events in your industry and/or those hosted by your undergraduate or graduate alumni associations. Invite your colleagues to attend.
- Take advantage of any formal mentoring opportunities at work as well as any opportunities to meet more people. Consider joining a cross-functional task force, attending optional training sessions, or volunteering to help with a company-wide initiative.
- Take the call; when a new contact reaches out to you for networking (i.e., advice), respond.
- Connect with your network in person (e.g., for coffee/lunch) and not only via email.
Lastly, here are a few natural opportunities for reconnecting with your network:
- Share an update about yourself. (Your new job is a great opportunity to loop back to people in your network to update them, thank them for their support, and offer your assistance.)
- Reach out to your contacts when they receive a new job or post an update/article via LinkedIn.
- Introduce them to someone else in your network.
- Let them know when you find an article potentially of interest to them or when you notice they are mentioned in a publication.
- Alert them when you hear news about them via your network.
- Follow up on something they said to you about a challenge they were facing, and offer to help.
- Simply say hello (and maybe once again thank them for their guidance/insights).
Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation!