By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)
It’s sad, but true. Summer is nearly over. The heat has broken, vacation is over, and the kids are going back to school. You’ll probably be seeing more of your colleagues around the office, and as folks get back into the swing of things, you’re starting to feel more of the buzzing energy that goes along with the beginning of fall – the last push for business before everyone begins to disappear again for the holidays.
That means these next few months are crucial times to reconnect with folks in your field, new potential clients, and those contacts you made last spring. It’s time to make your own autumn resolution: make fall the season to follow up. Here are three ways to reconnect – and a little follow-up homework – for you to do this month.
1. Network Up, Down, and Around
We all know we have to build our network – it’s the key to gaining new insights and learning about new opportunities. Connecting with colleagues is important, but according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, networking laterally isn’t enough. The article authors, Rob Cross, associate professor at the University of Virginia and Robert Thomas, executive director of the Accenture Institute for High Performance, write:
“The executives who consistently rank in the top 20% of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse but select networks… made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from several different spheres and from up and down the corporate hierarchy.”
They explain that it’s not about the number of connections you have up, down, and around different parts of the industry – what’s important is that your network is diverse and that your connections are meaningful. That means going beyond knowing someone’s name, title, and what their business card looks like, but really knowing their unique skills.
Action item: Identify two people in your company you’d like to know better. Identify two people outside of your company as well. Make sure one of these four people is junior and one of them is more senior than you. Meet them for coffee.
2. Make Some Community Connections
Recently, Kim Bozzella, Group Head of Technology Americas, UBS, told us: “We’re heavily into sports. While we work a lot, it’s an opportunity to spend quality time with our children and connect with the folks in the community.”
In fact, we’ve profiled hundreds of women on The Glass Hammer – and a good portion of them have mentioned the importance of connecting with individuals in their community. Whether it’s participating in community theater or attending little league games, women have sung the virtues of connecting with people completely outside the workplace.
You never know who that next innovative idea will come from – and channeling your passion through an out-of-work outlet is a great way to find it.
Action item: Get out there! Who’s one person you’ve met outside work in the past 6 months? Call them up and do coffee.
3. Tag Along
There are professional organizations dedicated to just about every industry, sector, and subsector. Perhaps you’re a member of one already. Certainly you have a well-networked colleague who is. Next time she mentions a meeting or panel discussion she’s attending, politely ask if you could join her.
You’ll make new connections, strengthen the relationship you have with your co-worker already, and perhaps learn some things along the way. But of course, don’t forget to reconnect with the folks you meet there. Networking is more than collecting business cards – it’s the follow-up that counts.
Action item: Identify an interesting colleague who always seems to be off to a new and interesting meeting. Ask if her group is looking for new members, and how you can get involved.