Peers with whom you’ve previously worked, attended school, or shared a common purpose can be valuable members of your network.  This is because your shared history provides a ready resource for sharing job intel, references and referrals, making your investment in the relationship a worthwhile one.

Easier said than done, right?  Since you no longer share an employer and may not even be in the same geographical location, finding mutually convenient ways to keep in touch is the challenge.

Maintaining a Network Takes Conscious Effort

Even with social media, email and texts (not to mention phone calls), sustaining productive relationships with former colleagues requires time and attention.  The reality is that this is true for everyone. Few of us have the mindshare and focus to communicate regularly with a huge network, but we can respond to opportunities to support Individuals. Taking the time to comment on posts or on significant personal or professional events is always appreciated and keeps these relationships alive.

Consciously seeking and taking opportunities to endorse someone takes a little bit more of your time; and providing introductions, references or referrals takes even more.  Each of those actions, however, is a surefire way to maintain valuable long-term relationships—and they don’t have to be reciprocated every time to keep the lines of communication open.   Consider establishing a regular time and cadence to your network relationship management.  A few moments per day, or per week, or per month to be in touch with former colleagues or associates pays dividends on many professional and personal levels—not the least of which is the link between connectedness and emotional health.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Fernandina Beach, Florida and Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups. 

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.

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