Congratulations on making the best of your summer—whether you spent it focusing on your own personal development through independent learning or self-guided programs like Praxis, completing an internship, volunteering your time to a cause, or resuming a summer job.
As you reflect on your summer experience, you may find that the people you met and the connections you made were the most impactful parts of your experience. Maybe it was a supportive manager or a peer who invested time mentoring you or an alumni you connected with through Eagle Exchange that gave you timely career advice. You’ve likely heard over and over again (especially from the Career Center) the importance of networking and making these types of professional connections. But now that you’ve done this, you may be wondering—how does one maintain these connections in the long term? Below are two helpful tips to get you started.
Keep in touch with periodic updates
Sending a periodic email with highlights of what you’ve been doing during the semester/academic year can be an easy way to reconnect with your summer contact. Keep the tone less bragging and more information sharing. Maybe your summer connection provided you with advice about new skills you could pursue, courses to take or other people you could connect with. Why not follow up with them to let them know how that is going? Or better yet, thank them for their suggestions, especially if it resulted in being helpful advice.. At worst, you’ll get a quick email acknowledging your outreach, still keeping you top of mind. At best, you’ll not only get a response, but perhaps additional advice or direction to further solidify your connection and move you forward.
Demonstrate that you care
It can be easy to forget that at the heart of networking is a relationship. Cultivate your relationship by showing you genuinely care. How do you do that when you may no longer engage with this person on a regular basis? It starts with the active listening you did when you initially connected. Maybe your contact expressed an interest in a specific subject matter or book. Or even something more personal, like a favorite cuisine you both bonded over or they mentioned a family member who will soon be going through the college admission process. Why not use these opportunities as a way to reach out and support their interest or offer your help? Sharing a book you came across on their favorite subject or offering to be a soundboard for their college-bound family member can go a long way. However, make sure your offer is sincere as people can often easily tell when it is not.
Having the ability to reach out to these contacts for advice, whether one month or one year from now, will prove helpful as you continue to take steps toward your post graduate plans. If you feel stuck or want to talk through applying these tips to your specific situation, make an appointment to meet with one of our career coaches.