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Have you heard that Networking or Relationship Building is essential for any job or internship search? I’m sure you have because if you go to a UCS workshop, meet with one of our staff members during an appointment or read through our resources and materials you will see the word Networking uttered hundreds of times. But once you meet people, exchange business cards, shake hands and part, what do you do next?

There really is an art to Maintaining Your Network. Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. When you meet someone and receive a business card from them, write on the back of the card something that will help remind you of them or a topic for follow-up. This will make it easier for you to write a relevant thank you note or follow-up email.
  2. Join LinkedIn.com and create a professional online presence for yourself. When you meet someone in person or over the phone ask if they are on LinkedIn.com. If they are, then ask them if you could stay connected through that site. If they say yes, then be sure to connect with them within 48 hours. (Also, change that preloaded message that LinkedIn.com has on the invite template to something more personal… that will go a long way to impress.)
  3. Send updates to your network when you win an award, receive an internship or job offer or for any change on your resume. When you write to share the update ask your contact how they are doing and be respectful of their time, but let them know you were excited to share your news.
  4. Invite your contact(s) out for lunch or for coffee to catch-up. The more often you can meet someone in person, the better your relationship will be. Think of how you build friendships and use some of those techniques (as appropriate) when maintaining your “professional friends” or your network.
  5. Volunteer for your contacts company, organization or ask them if you could help them in anyway. One reason, some people do not feel comfortable networking is because they might feel it is one sided. That you are asking others for favors or advice and you might feel there is nothing in it for the person you are networking with. Well, here’s your chance to give back to your contact.

Developing a strong network is indeed important, but remember to think of ways to stay in touch with those people you are meeting over the summer at your internship, in your classes, at alumni events or maybe even at social gatherings. If you have any questions please post a comment here or contact Northwestern University Career Services at 847-491-3700.

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