You have just met a new contact at an event. You exchange business cards and when you return to your office you enter their details in your contact list and add them as a connection on your LinkedIn. For most individuals this method of networking is quite common. But what happens when you need the assistance of this particular contact in the future? Due to a lack of contact and the trust that comes with it, they will most likely be less inclined to want to help you.
Here are 5 things job seekers should do to build networked relationships:
1. Engage with your connections on LinkedIn
Don’t just add new contacts to your list or LinkedIn. Perhaps it can begin with sending them a personalised message saying it was great to meet them. Slowly start to get to know them online and earn their trust. When they need assistance offer to help, or, pass them on to another connection who may be able to help. This ensures that it’s not all about you and later on in the future if you need assistance, they will be willing to lend a hand.
2. Allocate time and put in effort to maintain your professional relationships
Forming strong alliances and professional relationships takes time. It is unfortunately something that is not going to happen overnight. As with anything, it takes skill to build strong relationships and we don’t always get it right the first go, it takes a bit of practice. You should look at it as you would forming a ‘friendship’. Remembering the personal details is going to show that individual that you were listening. Whether it is that holiday they took recently, their teen’s graduation or even their birthday. Touching base once in a while even just to see how they are going, is really going to help to strengthen your relationship which will be valuable in the future.
3. Ensure that the focus is on them as opposed to solely on yourself
Sometimes when we fall upon desperate times, we can become overly persistent and it’s a completely natural response. However it is within your best interests to show restraint and rather than making your conversations with a new contact who could help you, all about yourself, you should be trying to learn as much as you can about them. This way you can find out the best way to leverage the relationship to your advantage.
4. Be selective about who you connect with
You should only connect with people you know and trust. How can you rely on a stranger to help you when you need it most? The quality vs. quantity measure should be applied here and you want the relationships to be real so you can leverage them down the line when you need to. If you have connections on LinkedIn that you a) Have not met personally, b) Are not friends with another connection or c) Have absolutely nothing in common with you, then you’re probably best to either get to know them or remove them from your list.
Be sure to apply these four tips to your professional relationship building method. In the long run it will ensure that you stand the best chance at finding new opportunities whether it's through your network, or through your connections' networks. You don’t have to be alone in the hunt for a new job. Take the time to invest in your professional relationships.