Stay In Touch – References are Important

Have you ever heard the saying “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”? This is not just a good practice for children on the playground, but it’s also excellent advice for anyone who might be looking for a new job in the future, which means it probably applies to most of us!

For years the business world has been buzzing about the importance of networking and as a result some have become pretty good at “working the room” and passing out business cards at functions, but what can sometimes get forgotten is how critical it is to stay in touch with the network you’ve already established. When job searching, these important contacts may provide you with job leads from where they are currently working or have previously worked, connect you with other hiring managers or HR people they know and/or act as references.

Here are some ideas for how to keep those “old friends” golden:

Use Social Media to Connect

Social media tools have made it easier to keep in touch with your former managers and colleagues. Take the time to connect with them and check in to find out what they are up to and to update them on where you are and what you’re doing.

Send Congratulations

LinkedIn will update you if one of your connections has a new job. If you see an update or hear of a promotion or move through other channels, send a personal message of congratulations and take the opportunity to update them if anything has changed recently for you too.

Catch up In-Person

With all the technology we use these days, it’s easy to forget how appreciated a simple phone call to touch base or a quick catch-up session over coffee or lunch can be. You don’t want to overdo it (no stalking!), but don’t be shy about asking a former manager or colleague to meet for coffee or lunch if they were someone you would have done this with when you were working together.

Reach Out to References

Before you provide someone’s name as a reference, make sure the person is aware that you have done so. References who are prepared to talk about your experience will do a much better job of selling your strengths if they are ready for it than someone who can’t remember who you are when they get that call!

Following these simple steps will help to keep you top-of-mind with former managers and colleagues. When it comes time to look for your next job, you will be glad you kept your network contacts “warm”!

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