You've probably ascertained that networking can be highly useful when securing a new job. In fact, a recent LinkedIn blog post by Lou Adler, author of "Hire With Your Head," explains that job seekers who received referrals from a trusted source are 50 to 100 times more likely to receive an interview and be hired compared to traditional résumé submissions.
However, networking can be equally rewarding once a job has been secured.
With that in mind, let's first define the concept of "post-employment networking" as continuous, deliberate relationship-building for those already engaged in a career.
It should also be noted that this practice can be as thorough as collaborating with peers at industry conferences or as simple as ensuring you call your contacts by name, wishing them a happy birthday on the right day, asking about their children, sharing an article on a topic of interest or connecting them with other influencers in your network.
Understanding these fundamentals, let's take a step further and examine a few reasons why continuing to build and nurture relationships after you're employed is an excellent idea for every professional.
1. Your resources grow exponentially. Sure, the members of your network may have valuable connections with hiring authorities who could open the gates into a new role for you.
However, that value doesn't evaporate once you're actually employed.
For example, let's say you're able to secure a project management role and are tasked with executing a website redesign that requires input from full stack developers, graphic designers, copy editors, SEO specialists and any number of others.
If in-house resources to tackle this project aren't available readily, then tapping into the network you've been carefully cultivating can benefit you in the following ways:
- Optimizing time efficiency. Going out and evaluating suitable partners for the project can be incredibly time consuming considering the hours spent posting ads, speaking with candidates and checking portfolios. However, when you already have pre-qualified professionals in your personal Rolodex, you can skip all that and get right to work.
- Providing reciprocity. Building successful connections with others is a two-way street. Consequently, when you have the ability to toss someone else in your network an opportunity, you've likely instilled in them an eager desire for continued collaboration through which they use their resources for your benefit.
- Looking good to management. When you're able to speed up business processes by tapping into your connections, your superiors are liable to think "this is the kind of person we want to keep around."
2. You can access insider information. It's important to remember that a significant part of post-employment networking revolves around building relationships within your business as well as outside of it.
For example, if you're able to build rapport with hiring authorities at your firm, you can be the first to find out about forthcoming internal promotions and strategically position yourself for growth.
Similarly, you may discover the firm is opening a new branch office in your dream destination, and if you're connected with the right person, you could get a head start on applying for the transfer.
But, if you don't express a genuine interest in the others at your organization, they likely won't feel compelled to share these useful nuggets of information with you.
3. You can benefit as your contacts blossom. In the public relations industry, many of the most successful agencies respond to inquiries from even the smallest of news outlets because those with modest reach right now might turn into industry moguls down the road.
Similarly, continuing to build new relationships and nurture existing contacts after you're employed can be hugely beneficial to you as members of your network grow into the next phases of their career.
For example, icons like Ralph Lauren, Mark Cuban, Warren Buffett and Jay-Z all rose from modest beginnings and you can be sure those who showed them agenda-less support and kindness during their growing pains enjoyed the ride once their careers exploded.
4. You have evangelists once you're ready to make your next move. A recent survey by The Future Workplace concluded that millennials may have somewhere between 15 to 20 jobs in their lifetime. Regardless of how you landed your current job, it probably won't be permanent.
Therefore, savvy members of the workforce recognize that relationship-building is equally as crucial when you're employed as when you're not.
On one hand, a contact may uncover an opportunity perfectly suited to your interests and skill set after you already found work and help you make your next move because you've been keeping up with him or her all along.
On the other hand, if you manage to find such an opportunity for yourself, you'll be happy you maintained active contact with all the influencers in your network who can provide a substantive referral.
The key here is to keep giving as much as you can once you're employed without needing to ask for anything in return. Show genuine interest in other people's passions, continue to ask them questions they'd be excited to answer, listen intently to what they have to say and you'll have surrounded yourself with a circle of people who would not only be willing but excited to help take your career to the next level.
Ben Weiss is the digital marketing strategist for Infusive Solutions – an NYC-based IT staffing firm in the Microsoft Partner Network that specializes in the placement of .NET, SharePoint and SQL Server developers as well as Windows Systems Engineers, DBAs and help desk support professionals in verticals such as legal, finance, fashion and media. Connect with him on Twitter: @InfusiveInc or at Facebook.com/InfusiveInc.