Monday, March 24, 2014

A Simple Way To Strengthen Your Professional Network

a picture of two men shaking hands dressed professionally
If you want to strengthen your professional network, one the most important things that you can do is report back after any interaction with professionals in your network.

If you reached out to a former coworker to get advice on a marketing campaign you were going to run, let them know whether or not the campaign was successful and what you learned.

If while looking for a job you got an introduction from a friend to their old roommate, who now works at your dream company, let your friend know how your conversation went with their former roommate.

Following up afterwards will help you take that professional relationship to the next level. The reason this step is so important is because it increases the level of trust. Someone trusted you enough to take the time to make an introduction or give you advice. In following up, you confirm to them that this trust was not misplaced and that you made good use of their time. Every time you report back positively, this trust will grow stronger. People just feel great when they know they have really helped someone. Reporting back will actually increase their willingness to help you in the future.

My good friend Sonal is a great example of what can happen when you report back. At the beginning of her MBA program she reached out to an alumni to talk about internships in the Boston area. She ended up doing her internship in California, but kept it touch with the alum in Boston and let him know how it was going, even getting feedback from him on her summer project. After the project was over, she reported back on how it went. She found that each time she followed up on their different conversations, he seemed even more willing to help her in her career and job search. In a relatively short period of time, the relationship flourished into a strong professional relationship.

One common concern I've heard people say, is that they don't want to bother them again. Do not worry about that at all. It's never a bother, people want to know, especially if they have really helped you.

It only takes a few minutes to write a short email or make a quick call, but the positive impact reporting back on different professional interactions will have on the strength of your network will be profound.


  1. Derek - Really great advice here. Over the years, I've also realized the importance of following up. Like you said, people aren't bothered by the follow-up but actually appreciate it. If you were a bother, they wouldn't have helped you in the first place!

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