If you are in a season of staying home with your children, taking care of an elderly family member, or any other reason for an absence in the workplace; you may be wondering how you will ever be able to get back to the workplace.
Maintaining your professional networks is important for your future in the return to the workforce. Networking can help you find a job when you’re ready to return to work, promotions, increases in earnings, and having influence.
You spent years building relationships with your colleagues, clients, business partners, managers, etc. Now you want to maintain those relationships through your current transition away from work.
How can you maintain professional relationships when you are not in the daily grind of the work place?
5 Strategies for Maintaining Professional Relationships
#1 Prioritize your professional relationships
Prioritize your professional relationships by categorizing them by clients, potential clients, business partners, and networking influencers. You won’t be able to maintain relationships with everyone you worked with on your break, but you can choose people to stay in touch with that you had a strong connection with personally and professionally.
#2 Use Email
Email is still a great way to connect with people. It feels more personal than using social media, especially if you acknowledge something that was seen on social media like a promotion or something as simple as a birthday through an email.
When you contact someone through email make sure you are providing them with useful information (check out the “What’s in it for me?” Factor below) about the industry, introductions to professional influencers, share new ideas, etc. If you are providing useful information in your emails, then they will be likely to open your emails each time you send one!
Consider sending regular emails on a monthly basis to maintain communication with people in your network.
#3 The “What’s in it for me?” factor.
People are busy and when they receive an email they don’t have time for random “friendly just wanted to say hi” emails. People in your professional network are thinking “what’s in this email for me? Why would I spend time reading these emails?” You can catch the attention of someone from your professional network if you are able to solve a problem or meet a need.
You can easily add value to your emails by staying on top of trends in your field through association newsletters or keeping up with business news.
#4 Use Social Media
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with your professional network while you are away. Make sure you are following people from your professional network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
It’s easy to make quick contact with people through social media channels. You can also keep up to date with any special events like birthdays (Facebook), promotions (LinkedIn notifications), or other work related events by checking your social media. Responding to these events will keep you engaged in the lives of your professional network.
#5 Attend Local Network Opportunities
While you aren’t in the workforce right now, you can still take advantage of low cost local network opportunities through Mom Source, LinkedIn, and Meetup. Another option would be to attend meetings from professional associations in your field.
These meetings will keep you up to date on current news in your field and allow you the opportunity to network with new people.
Also make time to join a happy hour with people from your network or grab a lunch together occasionally.
These tips will help you maintain your professional networks while you are taking a break from the workforce. It will require you making an effort of communication and being helpful on a consistent basis.