Let’s face it: Keeping up with your network can be really hard. Most of us just don’t have enough time to go to drinks with our contacts every week or attend networking events regularly. If you can make time for those activities – great! But if you can’t, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways you can keep in touch with your contacts without even leaving your house. Here are our top five:
1. Track the trades. If you’re reading the trades regularly (always a good practice!), you’ll likely come across news about people you know or the companies they work at. If you see something interesting or exciting – a promotion, a new project acquisition, or a sale – send a congratulatory email. It’s nice to be nice! So often we think about how we can use our contacts to help us, but the truth is, real relationships are fostered by mutual appreciation. When you have that moment of, “Good for Jane! I’m so glad her pilot got picked up!” tell her!
2. Use social media. If you see one of your contacts post something on social media – especially if it’s about work – engage with the post. Watch the trailer of the work they shared and comment on it or share it. Congratulate them on their “major life event” of getting a promotion. Like their step and repeat photo. You probably won’t establish meaningful relationships exclusively on social media, but it’s a great way to stay in light touch with someone.
3. Share your own news. Whether on social media (including LinkedIn) or emails to your close contacts, you can share the exciting things happening in your professional life. If self-promotion isn’t really your thing, you can still do a version of this that feels comfortable for you, like reaching out to a contact to let them know you just started a new job and would love to connect about potentially collaborating together.
4. Connect around the holidays. The holidays are a very natural time to get in touch with your contacts. Send individual emails or cards to your contacts to wish them well for the new year and share a bit about what you’ve been up to. You may not get responses from everyone, but well-wishes are always welcome
5. Share interesting content. If you read an article or watch a movie that reminds you of a conversation you had with a contact or seems up their alley, share it! Depending on how close you are, this can be a text, email, or DM. Don’t overdo this – you’re not a news aggregator – but if your contact told you they’re looking for true crime stories to adapt, and you read a super interesting true crime story in The New Yorker, send them the link!
One thing to remember here is to treat your contacts as actual human beings. In fact, we don’t really like the word “contact,” since it implies that you don’t have a real relationship. Once you start thinking of those in your network as people who you respect and whose company you enjoy, it becomes easier to reach out. Remember: We’re all just people working in a highly social business!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan