As I returned to New York City a few weekends ago, I overcame a feeling of nostalgia as I roamed the streets of SoHo. Last summer I completed internships in the city at two fashion PR agencies, and still to this day I can clearly remember my first day on the job. While walking down Broadway Street with my boss, she looked at me and said, “The first fundamental lesson in any career, especially in PR, is to always get everyone’s contact information that you meet.” Her advice has stuck with me ever since.
As a new professional, I am constantly growing my contacts and networking wherever I go. It’s basically second nature for me now to ask for a business card. Did you know that according to the Pew Research Center, the average American has approximately 634 ties in their overall network? However, as easy as it is to meet new people in your field, it is also just as easy to forget to reconnect with them.
Like many recent graduates, I am currently in the job search stage. During this time, I’ve had the chance to reflect on all of the people I have met throughout school, internships, and other experiences. This has made me realize how important it truly is to stay connected with your network.
They can open new doors for you
This is the most obvious, yet most important reason to staying connected. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” According to the Labor of Statistics, approximately 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. It is highly recommended for recent graduates to reconnect with as many people as they can in their network (e.g. professors, previous employers, colleagues, friends, family members). Any one of these contacts can refer you to a job, connect you to another professional, or even just provide you with advice and new knowledge.
It’s common professional etiquette
Regardless if a connection has done a favor for you or helped you in some way, it’s always appropriate to reach out and let them know you haven’t forgotten about them. Thank them for their help or simply say hello. You don’t want someone to think that you’re only reaching out to him or her for a favor. Be natural and friendly. Just as you would contact your friends to grab a coffee or lunch to catch up, it’s okay to do the same with your professional network. There are many creative ways to staying connected!
“What if I haven’t talked to them a long time, should I still reach out?” The answer is YES! This is often a worry among new professionals, but the truth is that people will always appreciate a nice message from an old colleague or friend. In this day and age, communication has become a lot easier especially with the use of social media. If you don’t feel comfortable calling someone, then reach out via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or email.
Ideally, you don’t want to get stuck in the habit of waiting too long before you reconnect with someone in your network. Eventually, relationships will fade if you don’t attempt to keep in touch. You want to avoid this by consistently communicating with your contacts and making yourself visible. For example, I like to message and email my old professors and employers every 2-3 months. Our professional network is rapidly growing, so it’s important to prioritize and make time for those whom you have stronger relationships with.
Recent graduates and new professionals, what method of communication have you found to be the most effective and comfortable when reconnecting with people in your network?
Catalina Gomez is a graduate of Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Communication. She specializes in public relations and has experience working with lifestyle and consumer brands. Catalina is also an active member of the Hispanic community and currently resides in Maryland. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.