7 Tips on How To Maintain Professional Relationships, and Reap the Benefits

This is part II of a series about burning bridges.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or in search of a new career, remember that networking could lead to your big break. Job opportunities are more likely to arise if you network with a healthy number of career-oriented peers. Managing connections is not hard. It entails making a conscious effort to stay in touch with colleagues — and especially the people you came up with. Finally, always make an effort to establish new professional relationships.

Use these 8 tips to help you make and keep professional contacts.

  1. Always leave a job on a good note. Send your personal email address to your peers and bosses whenever leaving a job. According to one Austin-based professional, headhunters look at your LinkedIn page for letters of recommendation from previous managers and other professionals. “I’ve given out referrals for former colleagues and have received them as well,” he explained.
  2. Maintain old contacts and always look for new ones. You never know who you will meet at a dinner party, café or happy hour — socialize, have confidence and never fear swapping business cards. Aligning yourself with other career-oriented individuals is crucial, especially when transitioning into a new job.
  3. Check in every now and again via email with former colleagues and other professionals in your field. Meet with them at events such as those hosted by Writers’ League of Texas; a specialty organization like the critique group for science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction writers, SlugTribe; or BASHH, a networking organization for social media professionals. You might end up with a job lead.  “It important to pass job leads to your peers as well. If you help someone get a job, they may feel indebted to you and will likely pass leads on in return,” says Riki Markowitz, PWA founder.
  4. “Write a follow-up email after hearing the news that you didn’t get the job. Let the hiring manager know that you appreciated his time and the opportunity to interview,” says Kindall Heye, a recruiting manager in Austin. This not only shows professionalism, it is also a display of interest. By doing this, more often than not, recruiters will hang onto your resume and remember you for future openings. 
  5. Use social media outlets. They are one of the most important tools you can utilize to connect with other professionals and learn about different companies. “I know a lot of people who use LinkedIn and say they have come into contact with peers who have been beneficial to their career,” said the Austin professional . Sites such as Twitter and Pinterest can benefit you in the future but always remember to curate your personal content. Anything you put on the internet is public and could be seen by a hiring manager.  
  6. Keep lines of communication open with those who may have helped you in the past. They are a great source for recommendations and just might surprise you one day with a job lead.
  7. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get the first job you applied to.  One Austin recruiter said, “Don’t be discouraged from re-applying for the same or other positions in the company. If I see your resume again and liked you the first time around, I may offer you a different job.” He added, “In the past, I’ve recommended people I’ve interviewed for other openings within the company. When an opening comes up, I always first consider candidates I’ve already interviewed.”

Alisha Thomas graduated from Cal State Monterey Bay University in 2010 year with a BA in human communications. While studying for her postgraduate degree in London, Thomas interned at Runner’s World UK and Gaz7ette magazine. In 2010 to 2011, Thomas served as art director of Kingston University magazine, which was shortlisted by the BBC for Best University Magazine in 2011. Thomas came to Austin in 2012. Her goal is to work in publishing, marketing or communications.

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