Maintain Social Networking Momentum after You're Hired

It takes years to build a strong social network during a job search. The longer you stay away from professional networking, the more career momentum you’re bound to lose. And you can’t afford to lose any momentum — unless you don’t mind starting from scratch every time you start looking for a new job.

Here are some ways you can keep up your networking momentum without getting in the way of your new job:

  • Find the right mix. Perhaps you choose three networking groups to belong to and be active with. Consider when and how often the groups meet and ask yourself whether you can commit to that. (Many professional networking groups meet quarterly after hours. Surely that’s doable.) Maintain relationships from the groups via your social networks and CRM. At the very least, add them to your LinkedIn network.

  • Keep the right mindset. If you think everyone you meet should benefit your career, then your hidden agenda won’t make you any friends. Instead, keep an open mind and see networking as an ongoing process with an unknown outcome. Perhaps you’ll make a good friend or perhaps nothing will come of it. Whatever the outcome, enjoy the process.

  • Learn something new. Many industry networking events also include some kind of lecture or guest speaker. Take advantage of the learning opportunity as well as the networking aspect. Then share what you learned with your online network through status updates or blog posts.

  • Set reasonable goals. These goals may include attending at least one networking event a month and meeting three new people at it. Or you may set goals to help you stay in touch with your existing network. For example, commit to inviting at least one person in your network to happy hour or sending five LinkedIn messages just saying “Hi” each month.

  • Correspond with your e-mail list. This task requires just a few minutes and keeps your relationships fresh. This approach is particularly useful when leaving an unemployment support group. Don’t just disappear; e-mail the leader of that group with any news about you. Group leaders love this type of news and usually share it with everyone else for you.

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