This post originally appeared on FEI Daily.
Many people think of networking largely as a job search tool. They fail to recognize its role in enhancing their long-term job security, professional stature and company’s growth.
Individuals with strong networks are often seen as more valuable by their organizations because they’re professionally active and well connected, and networking can be a valuable business development tool. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, 60 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said business growth was the primary purpose of their professional networking activities (compared to 10 percent whose top goal was looking for a job).
Still, the reality is after landing a coveted position and putting in long hours trying to make a mark in a new workplace, networking can suddenly seem like a low priority. Before you relegate it to the bottom of your to-do list, consider these suggestions for easy ways to keep your networking efforts active, even as you work on establishing yourself in your new position.
Maximize online networking.
The Robert Half Management Resources survey also found CFOs prefer to network online. Because virtual networking can be done at any time, there’s no good reason not to maintain an active presence, with “active” being the key word.
Go beyond simply having a LinkedIn profile. Stay engaged with your network by posting an occasional book review, contributing to a conversation on a hot topic and commenting on others’ updates. In the process of staying in contact with your connections, you’ll build your professional visibility and show yourself as an expert in finance and your industry.
When you see that someone in your network has gotten a promotion or changed jobs, take a minute to send a congratulatory note. Taking the time to acknowledge someone else’s achievement will be remembered.
Stay active in professional organizations.
Although you may have been a regular at your local chapter meetings when you were job hunting, you may think that’s one activity you could now safely drop from your busy schedule. Unfortunately, that would mean breaking one of the cardinal rules of networking: Don’t just do it when you need to. It’s essential to maintain your network by staying involved with professional groups, such as Financial Executives International. Doing so also helps you keep abreast of what’s happening in your field, enhancing your professional value.
If you can’t be as active as you were in the past – perhaps you need to give up chairing a committee, for example – continue to make an effort to attend meetings and networking events. Also look for other ways to contribute, such as delivering a presentation or writing an article for the chapter website or newsletter.
Start your own networking group.
Another way to keep in touch with influential contacts is to plan your own recurring networking activity – maybe a once-a-month meeting for coffee, lunch or happy hour. Consider making these meetings a “same time, same place” arrangement by meeting at a mutually convenient place on the first Friday of each month, for instance. Even if all members of your group can’t attend every time, having a standing engagement will help ensure you don’t let valued relationships go dormant.
Pass it on.
Now that you’ve landed a sought-after position, don’t forget to try to help those who’ve helped you. Use your new post to become an even more valuable contact to those in your network. You can be their eyes and ears in your industry or company and pass on job leads, referrals or meaningful business developments, as long as you’re not violating any confidentiality expectations, of course.
Also, if you continue to receive job leads or queries from recruiters after settling in your new role, you may want to pass that information on as well. Recruiters, in particular, are almost always interested in receiving referrals to other talented professionals. In addition, your acquaintances will likely be flattered you thought to recommend them.
It’s difficult to predict what twists and turns your career might take, and you never know when you’ll need the help of a strong network. So think twice before easing off your networking efforts. It’s much easier to nurture a thriving network than to have to cobble one together when you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you have to seek others’ assistance.