Who knows why we fall out of touch with colleagues. There could be a million reasons ranging from changes in the industry and your career to a shake-up in someone’s personal life. Sometimes proximity plays a role, or perhaps a big project dominates. I could go on and on. The point is that rarely do professional relationships end due to malice or distaste. It’s often due simply to life doing its thing.
Having said that, we all know how important it is to keep in touch with your connections. Leaving a good impression on someone is very valuable and you never know when that person could play a big role in your future or you in theirs. So how do you keep those connections alive?
Good, old fashioned business cards.
They’re still around in this digital age for a reason. Even if your organization system is as simple as a stack on your desk, periodically pick up that stack, sort through it, and pull out the most treasured contacts. If you think of it, when you meet the person or later that evening when you have a chance to think, jot a note on the card as to where you met them and maybe a small reminder as to what you talked about. Your future self will thank you, I promise.
LinkedIn is usually the first stop for professionals, but many colleagues are branching out to connecting on other forms of social media as well. Of course don’t accept or suggest any digital connections you’re not comfortable with (if your Facebook page can get a little inappropriate probably best to leave that one private, for example) but social media is a great tool for getting connected- and staying connected- with people you meet.
While you’re on your computer, send off an email every once in awhile. Reach out, say hi, and start an email chat or even propose a quick call or video chat. Expand on whatever led to the connection in the first place or ask about new projects. That direct, personal touch will go a long way!
Keep up the events
If you met a bunch of people at an event like ASAE (if you were there, you did) then consider making more of those types of events. Obviously they don’t have to be quite the size and expense of the Annual Meeting, but keep your eyes open for smaller, less expensive events, workshops, or conferences where you could make some connections.
Collaborate and never let the connection drop in the first place!
The secret, of course, to keeping connections alive is to foster their growth from the beginning. When you attend an event where you know you’ll encounter a substantial amount of networking, block off some time in your schedule when life returns to normal to follow up with promised emails, make phone calls, or add connections to your social media or your address book. Then spend some time thinking about the ways you and your new connections can synergize! They’ll be glad you did, and you will too.
Networking can be a tricky beast. Say the right thing, wear the right thing, do the right thing and above all, be in the right place at the right time. Let us help take some of the guess work out of networking for Small Staff Association leaders! Click below to download our free guide to networking.