So you got the job. Congrats. If you think your networking can be put on hold for now, you are mistaken.
Here are seven important tips to get off to a great start, make the most of your new job and continue to nurture and expand your network.
1. Share the News!
Share the news with your current network and the many people you met in your job search. Update your LinkedIn profile and add a post about your new role. Circle back with people you met during your job search and let them know where you landed. Send a short email saying, “I wanted to reach out and let you know I took a job with XYZ Company and have started work this (week, month, etc.). I really appreciate having met you and learning from your insights and advice. Thank you for your help and I hope to stay in touch.”
You’ll be surprised how many people reach out to say congrats and ask to learn more about what you’re doing now. Such outreach is almost effortless and continues to build upon relationships you have started. You never know when you will cross paths again. It’s up to you to stay in touch and keep your network informed.
2. Meet Your Colleagues
Meeting colleagues on your team should be easy. You’ll be working with them from day to day. Make sure you reach out to those with whom you interviewed. Ask peers and colleagues for coffee or lunch. Seek their advice on how to be effective. Ask as many questions as needed to make sure you get on-boarded quickly and easily. Always ask, “Who else would you recommend that I meet?” Asking for introductions to decision makers and those who hold positions of influence is a great way to get yourself ‘on the radar’ in a positive light and best to do this right away.
Some companies have formal training programs making it easier to meet your peers and get exposure to senior management in your company or organization. Other firms have strategy sessions or off-sites to bring people together. Embrace these opportunities not just as great learning experiences but importantly to meet people outside of your team. Meet people in other functions and roles such as finance, marketing, human resources or IT. You’ll need their expertise if not today, certainly in the future. Make friends early and often. Use your breaks and mealtimes wisely: never eat alone.
3. Join Groups and Associations
Find a group of people in similar roles outside your firm and join up. If such a group doesn’t exist, create one. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for groups that you can join. Even better, make the effort to meet in person.
Meeting with others in similar roles can help accelerate your learning and expose you to different perspectives that can be invaluable. A monthly or bi-monthly breakfast, lunch or drinks with like-minded colleagues will provide a sounding board, an opportunity to share best practices and invaluable information. It’s up to you to make the effort and invest in yourself.
4. Make the Most of Business Trips
If given the opportunity to travel for work, take it and make the most of it to build relationships with colleagues or clients. While traveling can be grueling and time consuming, it does provide an opportunity to get to know someone outside of a work context. If you’re traveling with a group, don’t bury yourself in a book or spend the entire time on your laptop. Take a moment to talk to colleagues and get to know them.
Having a meal creates bonds. Talking about non-work interests builds connections. Going for a run, to the gym or to a sports event with a colleague breaks down barriers. Get to know others on a more personal level by showing interest and asking questions. Business trips can build closer bonds, make day to day interactions smoother and more productive, and even provide opportunities for professional feedback and counsel.
5. Attend Conferences and Events
It may not be for several weeks or months, but you will may have a chance to attend conferences or events either sponsored by your company or independently. Keep your eyes open for these opportunities and make a case to attend.
Conferences can vary in terms of structure, information flow and attendees. Large groups can be intimidating to some. Do as much research as you can about who will be there and make a list of who you might want to meet. The goal is not to pass out 100 business cards and never follow-up. The objective is to meet 2–3 people with whom you can have coffee or lunch at a later date, and then to build a professional relationship.
Attending a conference is an investment of time and effort. After the event, summarize what you learned and share them with colleagues. Introduce people you may have met to others as appropriate. Share the experience.
6. Volunteer for New Assignments
There are always opportunities to do a little more in any job, whether it is helping with recruiting or planning a company event. When given the opportunity to take on something extra — take it, not only for the value it brings to the company, but importantly to get to meet and interact with new people in your firm. Continuously think of ways to expand your circle of work contacts and relationships.
New assignments give you visibility and extend your reach into the organization. It allows others to see the quality of your work and the way you interact with others. Find ways to add real value and it will be noticed.
7. Help Those Searching for Jobs
Now that you have a job, you are in an excellent position to be helpful to others. This can take place more formally as someone who is tapped to interview new hires or informally as someone who may be approached for advice.
Be sure to remember to treat people well. The people you interview may join your team or you might see them again further in your career. Others may reach out to you for coffees or information. Take the time to lend a helping hand to others. Play the long game as you never know how important any new connection can be.
The perfect opportunity to nurture and expand your network is when you’re starting your new job. Don’t delay. Approach each new person you meet with a spirit of generosity and authenticity. Make these seven steps part of your professional routine. The payoff is access to knowledge, information, resources, efficiency, opportunities, and yes, your promotion or next job!
Pat Hedley is an investor in and advisor to growth companies. She is also the author of Meet 100 People, A How to Guide to the Career Edge Everyone’s Missing. See www.meet100people.com for more on Pat’s book.