Pt. 2 - Sustaining Your Network (The Millennial Way)

You’ve Grown Your Network…Now What?

So, you have now successfully connected with people in the industry you want to get into.  Great!  If you haven’t, remember to be patient.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was anyone else’s career.  Like I said in our last blog post, you have time!

After you’ve made these meaningful connections, it’s time to now sustain these relationships.  Make your relationship more personal than anything else.  You want each connection to feel like a friendship and give them a reason to invest in you.  You want all of your connections to say this about you, “Man, so and so is so great!  I need them to work for me and my organization.”  Now, you won’t talk every day to your connections like you and your best friends do.  There’s not enough topics for you all to discuss, so make sure you have an agenda for each time you get to sit down and chat with each connection.

One-on-Ones

In the last blog post, we talk about getting that one on one time with each connection to learn from them.  Have an agenda before going into each conversation with a connect.  Remember that you are talking because they want to tell you about their story and how they got to where they are.  So, keep all of the questions centered around them and take notes. 30 minutes will fly by when you start talking and the conversation will take it’s own path, so let it be.  Establishing a genuine connection is the main priority, so don’t try to the steer conversations. You want the connect to truly enjoy the conversation and have a positive memory about your interactions. The wisdom that your connections will share with you is something you will value for a long time.

One thing I always try to do is put myself in the other person’s shoes for a minute.  They are a working professional that is connecting with a college or recent college student.  They want to tell you all about themselves because that’s how they got to their role and who they are today.  They want to share all the secrets and every trick they have learned.  LET THEM.  Let your connections teach you everything they have learned.  Sure, you might not agree with everything they say and/or do, but you aren’t talking to them to disagree about anything.  You are simply learning.  Would you tell your professor he/she is wrong when they are teaching you a new subject?  I don’t think so.

Happy Holidays?  Isn’t That Unprofessional?

First off, no.  Wishing happy holidays to a colleague, friend, family member, or anyone in that matter is not unprofessional.  Remember we are human beings and we all have emotions.  Wishing happy holidays to someone does not make you unprofessional, it makes you a human being that values nice gestures.  The simple note saying “Hi ____, I wanted to wish you a happy holiday from my family and I.  I hope you have a great time with your family and friends. Warm Regards!”

I highly recommend sending happy holiday notes to your connections.  Every holiday you need to send a “Happy ____” to each connection that you value.  Continue to do this even if they do not respond because I promise you they see it and appreciate it.  The fact that you are reaching out while you are with your family, as well shows that you are dedicated to your career and future.  It gives each connection a reason to want to help you, too because they want to be surrounded by people like you.  High morale and consistent.  Always say thank you, too.  Those two words that your parents taught you when you were younger will take you further than you think!

Consistency

Always respond.  Always.  There is no reason for you to look at a message a connection sends you and not respond.  This is not your boyfriend or girlfriend texting you when you don’t feel like talking.  This is your career speaking, so you should always want to talk about getting better.  This doesn’t mean that you need to answer right away, but my advice is to give 24-48 hours to respond.  This is a good amount of time to think about what you say before you say it and to get a timely response from your connections, too.

If you are bad at remembering things, then utilize your calendar.  Every phone and computer has one.  If you don’t have one?  Make a gmail account (or any other free service) and use the calendar on there.  Then, set reminders a day or two before each holiday.  Set the reminder as something simple that you’ll remember, such as “EMAIL CONNECTIONS HAPPY___.”  This is something I did to ensure I was staying consistent and I still send my connections a happy holiday note because I know the gesture is courteous.

 

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