Happy New Year! As the traditional new year’s song starts, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”, we should take these lyrics to heart in our job hunting efforts. You cannot allow yourself to be forgotten among your contacts; a crucial step in networking is to reach back to contacts with updates and information about yourself and your job hunt.
When I mention about the need to follow-up with networking contacts, I am often met with the same question, “What would I say?”. First thing, keep the follow-up short – do not write a lengthy email or plan on a 30 minute phone call. Get right to the point, some topics for follow-up:
- If the contact had recommend you reach out to someone, research something, perform some task, try a strategy, etc. – provide an update as to the outcome of the advice you received.
- Provide contacts an update as to your job hunt – have you been spending time networking, have you had any interviews, do you have any active applications, and so on. I do not recommend trying to provide a comprehensive review, just hit some highlights.
- Update your networking contacts to your goals. If you were in the exploration phase when you first spoke with the contact, let him/her know what industry or job function on which you have focused your job hunt.
- Mention upcoming goals. Do you plan on traveling to your target city for informational interviews? Are you planning on reaching out to alumni at a certain company or within a certain field? Are you applying to graduate programs?
- Say thank you for their previous assistance – this can never be done enough.
Yesterday, I was on the phone with an alum, Dwight, who has been excellent in providing a monthly update as to his progress. Three months ago, it was a recap of the variety of people he has spoken to, two months ago – interviews he has had, and now he is relaying job offers and his refined job hunt focus. Dwight uses a mass-email approach to his updates (this is fine for some updates, if the update is more specific in nature be sure to tailor the outreach to that specific contact) and mentioned that every time he has sent this mass email update, at least one of the people on his list has reached back and given him another name of an individual to contact, a job lead to follow-up on, or an idea for him to consider. He credited the response rates to the fact that these contacts know he is serious about staying in touch and is serious about breaking into his target field.
Dwight also mentioned that another benefit of the mass outreach is the encouraging emails that he receives in addition to the names and job lead emails. These well wishes can help any job hunter when he or she hits a slow point in their hunt.
So don’t allow yourself to ‘be forgot’, don’t allow yourself to ‘never brought to mind’ – or your contacts will only ‘raise a cup of kindness’ for you on December 31st of each year.