By Julie Neill, PT MBA Assistant Director, Executive Career Coach
Every working professional knows the importance of building a strong network. But what’s the secret to doing so? As you may have noticed, there has been an emphasis on networking the past couple of months by the PT MBA career coaching team. After a series of networking workshops on each campus and two highly successful networking events at the DC and Baltimore campuses this month, we hope that many of you have been able to make some fantastic, new professional connections with fellow students and alumni. But now what?
The secret to building a strong network is the follow up. Just like a garden, a robust network needs tending to, i.e. continuous cultivation and maintenance. One meeting does not a relationship make. Think about dating. If you went out on one date, but never followed up with the person, how would the relationship progress?
One of the critical factors here is timing. Strike when the iron is hot and follow up immediately after your initial meeting or very soon after. Send a LinkedIn connection request, preferably with a brief personalized message, and/or follow up with a short email. Again, although you want to keep it concise, make sure it’s personalized so the person can remember you and your specific conversation. If your initial conversation was brief, ask them to meet for coffee or lunch to continue the conversation in more depth. Or perhaps you recently read a book or article you think might be of interest to them, or better yet, you’ve written or produced something that might be of value to them professionally. Forward it along.
The key to any good relationship is that it is mutually beneficial. Another great way to build the relationship is to connect that person to a colleague or friend you think might also be a great connection for them based on their interests, and in this regard, it doesn’t necessarily have to be purely professional. For example, perhaps they mentioned they were in search of a good mechanic and you happen to know a great one or perhaps they mentioned a love of playing soccer and you happen to play on a local team. Be a connector. By doing so, both your network and ultimately, your net worth will begin to increase infinitely.