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Build rapport with your contacts

By | March 17th 2012

Instead of using the connection just for funny forwards, ensure that you drop your contacts a line every once in a month, writes TANIA NGIMA

Networking is more than just a buzzword in the modern business arena. Networks have proved to be invaluable to both employees, who progress their careers through the opportunities they hear about from their contacts, and employers, who are now using personal references and recommendations more to attract industry specific talent.

It is crucial then, that as we grow our individual careers and businesses, we not only grow but also keep up to date with our networks. This is even more important when out of the working scene for a period of time, say maternity leave, out of country postings, retrenchments or study leave.

Keep in touch

Keep in touch regularly but make it personal, the days of forwarding email jokes and chain mail to every contact you have are long gone. Instead of merely forwarding an inbox item, make every interaction count. Ensure that you drop your contacts a line every once in a while, every week is probably too much while once a year is too little. Once a month is probably a good mid-point. Share some news that would be useful to them or ask about their family or job. This ensures that when you hear of a vacancy and decide to ask them about it, it will not seem like the only purpose they serve is when you need a favour from them. Human beings just tend to be wired with the need to feel important and not as if they are being used towards an end.

Social media

Professional networking sites are great places to catch up with ex colleagues. These also make it more likely for you to find out about changes in acquaintances lives, say promotions or change of employer. In addition, of course, this provides a great opportunity for conversation.

Remember to always send a congratulatory message if you come across positive growth on your peers’ profiles. To make your tasks easier, classify your friends and professional acquaintances into groups of ‘current’ and ‘past’ co-workers or peers by industry.

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This makes it more appropriate when trying to keep up to date with industrial developments or changes and also when introducing people who you think may be valuable contacts to each other.

Connect at work

The very nature of our jobs sometimes makes it hard to make lifelong friends at work be it due to competition or just not having a conducive environment for this. However, this does not rule out making real connections. You do not need to become close friends but it is important to find some common ground that you can connect over even after you leave the workplace. This is invaluable when you get back into the job market and especially when job hunting.

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