Creating your professional network takes time and effort; having that friendly rapport with multiple people can create new opportunities and add value to your career.
It is important that these professional contacts are not just there whilst job hunting, but that they are a continuous and active part of your work life. Keeping your network ‘evergreen’ means that new connections should always be established, but keeping a strong relationship with your current professional network is just as important.
The Importance of an Evergreen Professional Network
It is vital in all stages of your career to keep your network from growing cold and to maintain a relationship with all kinds of contacts. Networking is considered to be a long-term investment and mutual benefit for all parties; however, 1 in 4 people don’t actually network. In the 21st century, connections are everything and maintaining a relationship with everyone in your address book (not just your closest contacts) has a great impact on your career successes. Having an evergreen network is important for two main reasons:
It is common knowledge that networking is incredibly important when you are looking for a new job, as 80% of job openings are never actually advertised, the right connections can increase your chances and refer you to that job title you want. With 28% of professionals having found or been referred to a new role through a network connection, building a relationship with all your professional contacts should not be done when you need them most. When you take the time and energy to not let a connection grow cold, you can use these valuable contacts to enhance your chances through a referral, insight into the industry and for other relevant information, allowing you to be a step ahead of other applicants.
The evolution of your career is an individual and continuous journey that will be influenced by multiple things – let your professional circle be one that enhances and adds value to it. When you make connections with a range of people from your industry, you’ll learn more relevant information and skills that will strengthen your career and expertise in the area. In your workplace, it is important to create an interconnected professional community where you can learn from other colleagues and secure a successful career through more than just networking events and job opportunities.
LinkedIn states that even though globally 79% of professionals agree that networking is valuable for their career progression, only
keep in touch with their network when their career is thriving
Keeping in Touch the Right Way
Your efforts of attending networking and industry events to meet new people shouldn’t be put to waste because you didn’t keep in touch. To help you follow up with those who may be part of your career milestones, create an action plan that will help you track and schedule multiple ways to remain connected.
LinkedIn has become one of the most popular ways for industry professionals to remain connected and keep up with career progressions in their respective fields. A LinkedIn account is more than just having a digital business card, it is a place to keep your network from growing cold and to rebuild relationships from your past employment as well as your current. More than one third of users say that a casual conversation on LinkedIn Messaging has led to a new opportunity; this is because the platform creates a unique way for you to share not only contact information, but your career milestones in the form of sharing blog posts, writing articles and other ways you feel necessary. LinkedIn is the social media for your professional circle, keeping it evergreen by commenting about their great article or share their conference speech, this lets them know you value a connection and their job position, as it may offer something in return.
As well as LinkedIn, most professionals say that face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships; asking to regularly catch up and check in with your network is one of the best ways to stop it from growing cold. If geography permits, ask some of your closest contacts or other connections to sit down for a coffee date invite, or online video conference to follow up on their careers. 75% of people believe that these face-to-face meetings allow more time for social interaction, and enables them to bond with more co-workers and clients. With 85% of job opportunities filled through networking, it’s one of the best ways you can continue to develop your career.
Networking is a long-term investment, it helps you to develop relationships with others from, or outside of your industry, learn and develop new skills, nurture sales leads and create a friendly rapport with prospective clients, colleagues and mentors.
Keeping your professional network evergreen and active will offer you greater chances of success in terms of your career development and job search; investing time and energy into maintaining these relationships will lead to lasting benefits and add value to wherever your career will take you.
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