One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it’s making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it’s the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you’re dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you.
I received an email this week from an intern who worked on my team a year ago. She’s graduating from college in May and is looking for her first job. She wanted to see if I would make an introduction for her to a specific company, and I did it without hesitation.
However, it wasn’t her email, though well written, that compelled me to reach into my network and send a few emails on her behalf.
Over the past year, I have received many emails from this young lady. She sent me updates on her winter internship, on her internship last summer—even photos from her study abroad in South Africa last spring. Whenever I have made introductions for her, she has always followed up with an email or a call thanking me and then followed up again after meeting the person to let me know how it went. The foundation is also there: When she was my intern, she was a hard worker, came to work with a positive attitude, and was willing to jump in wherever she was needed.
If what she’s been doing sounds like a lot of work, well, that’s because it is. In our fast-paced world, following up and closing the loop when people help us out with information or introductions can be hard to do.
But think about the alternative. She doesn’t follow up and keep in touch. She doesn’t ask for introductions. She doesn’t get warm emails to jobs she’s really excited about. She has to do all of the legwork of finding a job on her own. For anyone looking for a job, that’s a lot of work, but for recent college graduates, it’s even tougher because they don’t have a base of business connections yet.
You can also bet she is following this same type of proactive communication with other people she has met. I have no doubt that she’ll not only find a great first job, but that she’ll excel in her career choice.
I should know. I am obsessive over closing the loop—personally and professionally—and it’s helped me immensely through the years. It’s exhausting to think about all of the people who help us out on a daily basis. People who give us tips for travel, for new luggage, for what coffee shops work for business meetings—the list goes on and on.
Yet the same goes the other way. I give a lot of recommendations. I make a lot of introductions. It’s a cycle. I give and I take. I like to think that because I give my two cents and because I follow up afterward that people in my network are more inclined to continue to do the same for me.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Truth be told, many people in my network follow up and tell me what the outcome was when I offer information. But many do not. Did they end up applying for that job? Did they buy that book? Did they eat at that restaurant?
I’m not suggesting that it’s even possible to follow up 100% of the time. It would be all we ever did! What I am suggesting is to do it a little more, and see what happens. Does your network get stronger? Does your next ask get a little easier? My bet is the answer will be yes.
This article originally appeared as a weekly essay on The Causemopolitan. It has been republished here with permission.