The other day I penned some thoughts about how powerful it can be to receive a Thank You note (and I have made a commitment to be better about sending them). This post sparked a conversation with a friend about the importance of closing circles – following up with individuals to let them know you have completed a task.
The discussion reminded me of a conversation I had 10 years ago with Tom C. – an alum from New Jersey who is a networking guru. While he loves to meet people and help others, he said the only negative he experiences while networking is when he does not hear back from someone he has tried to help. In other words, he meets/talks with someone, provides some advice/contacts, maybe receives a thank you acknowledgment, and then never hears from the individual again. It is like a circle that is left incomplete – Tom is left wondering whatever happened to the person he tried to help.
So, when and how should one close the circle?
Follow-Up on Referrals: If someone suggests that you reach out to a third-party in your networking efforts, you should do so and then follow-up with the original contact.
Thank you again for meeting with me the other week, your insights and advice were very valuable in my career search in the television/film production industry. I wanted to follow-up with you to let you know I have spoken with Mary Jones, she was extremely helpful and even passed along my resume for an opening they had with Towers Broadcasting. Thank you again for your time and for the referral to Mary, I will keep you apprised of any developments on the job search and if I can be of assistance to you, I would be happy to reciprocate the kindness you have extended me.
Your contact will want to know that you acted upon their referral and the outcome. Some professionals will use this first experience to determine if they will continue to be a resource for you in the future.
Follow-Up on Advice: If someone suggests a course of action (moving something on your resume, joining a professional group, reading a certain blog, etc.) try it out and circle back to update the contact on your progress.
Thank you for taking my call last week, I know you are busy and I appreciate the time and insight you afforded me. I wanted to follow-up with you as I did take your advice and subscribed to PRWeek.com – the content and information on the Public Relations industry is phenomenal. I know it will help in my career search efforts.
Thank you again for your time and your advice. I will keep you apprised of any developments on the job search and if I can be of assistance to you, I would be happy to reciprocate the kindness you have extended me.
When you let a contact know that you followed their advice, you are telling them you valued their time and information. Just as I mentioned above, your contact may be more willing to share referrals when she knows you will follow through in a professional and timely manner.
Follow-Up on Your Efforts: Most career searches take a long time and one needs to touch base every couple of weeks with contacts to update them on any progress.
As it has been a couple of weeks since we corresponded about my career search, I wanted to provide you a quick update of where I stand. Last week, I interviewed for an analyst position with ACME, Inc. and should hear back from them next week. In the meantime, I have applied for a business development role at Warner and Brothers and will interview this Thursday for a business analyst opening with Coyote Roadrunners.
Thank you again for the referrals you have made, and continue to make, on my behalf, I will continue to send you a periodic correspondence to keep you apprised to the status of my efforts. If I can be of assistance to you, I would be happy to reciprocate the kindness you have extended me.
Keeping your contacts up-to-date on your progress is so important – this tiny effort will remind your contacts that you are still in the midst of a job search which could lead to additional referrals, tips, and job leads. During an active career search, if you let a month go by without reaching out to your contacts, 80% of your contacts have forgotten about you and your search.
Follow-Up on Successes: When people graduate from school, get married, have a child – they announce it to the world in order to share in the good news. The same celebration should happen when you complete your search after accepting a career opportunity. From the Bible in Luke 8:16 we read,
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light”
You are the light, share your news with others so they may join the celebration and feel empowered by your good news. Sharing your good news is not a selfish act, the recipients of the good news take pride in their contributions and share the joy of your success. I remember receiving a phone call this past December from a student who accepted a position with the NFL – I think I may have been just as excited as she was about the offer – in celebrating with her. I was honored that she allowed me to share in her joyful event.
Be sure to let everyone know, not just the person who passed along your resume or spoke to the hiring manager on your behalf. Let every person who has taken the time to help/speak/meet with you know about the good news of your outcome. No bushel baskets here!
Make the commitment to circle back with your contacts – you will be surprised how many of them are happy to hear from you again.