Remember to follow up. The purpose of “networking” is to expand on the network you have, adding new connections, exposing yourself to new people and groups, which in turn will lead you to newer connections. The initial connection, whether it’s as brief as a handshake and name exchange or as lengthy as a job, is just the beginning.
When I first started at my current job, I realized that a course I took in law school was one of the most important and relevant courses I had ever taken. I initially decided to take the class because the topic interested me; however, it was not until years later that I realized how much the course was going to help my work. I was compelled to thank my professor, and he responded quite pleasantly, thanking me for the compliments. In his response, he copied two local attorneys who practice the same type of law that I do, and he suggested that we meet. From continuing my relationship with a connection, I made two more.
It’s easy to forget about people. Work is always there, family and friends come first, and everyday responsibilities are constant considerations. However, no matter how busy you get, take the time to call an old colleague. Take the time to write an email or send a text, a LinkedIn message, or a Facebook message to an old acquaintance. Take the time to maintain or reestablish relationships with the connections you were so diligent in obtaining originally. Otherwise, all those galas you begrudgingly attended, those hands you shook, those cards you handed out were for nothing. Most people you meet and lose in the shuffle of life will lose you as well. Don’t just get connected, stay connected.