In years past, my New Year’s resolutions have often focused on personal goals. Learning a new hobby, reading more books, actually using that gym membership….
This year I am adding a professional goal to the top of my list: refreshing my network. It’s easy to let this task fall on the backburner, but like any friendship or relationship, a network has to be nurtured and maintained.
Here are 3 ways to refresh your network in 2015:
1. Document your network contacts.
The first step is to identify who is in your network. Your references, your peers at a conference, that person you had a pleasant, career-oriented conversation with on the airplane -- all belong on your list. Try scrolling through your LinkedIn contacts if you can’t remember everyone. Track their name, profession/field, contact information, and notes about how you met them in a list or spreadsheet. While you’re making this list, ask yourself, are you missing contacts from an industry or profession you want to break into?
2. Take a step back and review your network.
When was the last time you touched base with your references for your current/past job? Have you reached out and sent a ‘thank you’ to your contacts who have offered a piece of advice that stuck with you? Reviewing and saying hello to your network is just as important as that dance class you’ve been meaning to take for the past two months. Schedule time for both and stick to it!
3. Think strategically about your networking goals.
Now that you have taken a big picture look at your network, it’s time to get down to the finer details. What are you looking to accomplish in the next year, and who in your network can help you achieve it? Are you trying to find a mentor or are you interested in learning more about a particular field? Can they help introduce you to new contacts to help fill some knowledge or networking gaps? Send those contacts a simple ‘hello’ and brief update on your career; a link to an event or newspaper article that may interest them; or suggest meeting up for coffee or an informational interview. Remember to be respectful of people’s time and be mindful of how you can help others in your network. It may be beneficial to create a relationship-building timeline so you refresh your network consistently -- and not just once a year.
What are your professional goals for the New Year? Take a look at the YNPN Boston Leadership Team’s 2015 resolutions.
Written by Rachel Park: Rachel works in the Office of Communications at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, and also serves on the YNPN Boston Marketing and Communications team.