Remember that travel agent that told you to book a trip through them next time and you’ll get a great deal? Can you remember their name? Or do you know where they work now? What about their business card – did you hang onto it? No?
Don’t worry – we don’t always remember the details of most people we come across in life. But in the professional world, the importance of maintaining contacts is becoming more and more significant. It’s time to start compiling your professional phonebook. Here’s why:
- Most companies don’t advertise externally – According to the Guardian Australia, up to 60 percent of jobs are never advertised! Yep, that’s more than half of potential jobs that will never be posted on job seeker sites, advertised on company webpages or pinned to a window. How do you get these jobs? Most of the time, through the power of communication – conversations with your contacts!
- It reminds people you’re still there – Keeping in touch with your professional contacts reminds them that you’re still interested, still eager and still available. You might happen to call, text message or follow on Instagram someone you interned with. You never know, these people may now own their own business and are searching for an enthusiastic business partner.
- They’re incredibly handy for industry advice – Whether you’re a recent graduate or in the middle of a career change, industry contacts can give you insider advice into everything you need to know to help you get that job, win that client or sell that business pitch. They will also be able to fill you in on new industry developments or trends, which will help you promote your skills in interviews or job applications.
- Everyone has something to offer – You never know what other people know, who other people know, or how getting in touch with a distant contact in an unrelated field can be the conversation to get you places. Whether they’re a member of a local council, a supervisor from an internship, or a friend of a friend, it’s always worth keeping in touch. In turn, you might be able to help them too.
- It’s what you know, but who you know helps – The old saying you may have heard a million times. Although this isn’t something university graduates want to hear after spending the last three, four or five years studying – but there is some truth to the saying. Knowing the right person can definitely score you the right conversation which lands you a job. But, they won’t be there holding your hand in an interview. You have to stand on your own merits too.
Unsure if this advice will work? Here’s proof!
I met the contact that landed me a job while interning earlier this year. I worked for a news program that had multiple guests on the show every day. From movie producers, to women’s rights advocates and other journalists. In these circumstances, it wasn’t possible to build a rapport with everyone, and possibly not appropriate to go asking for their personal phone numbers after five minutes of chatting! So, as we do, I improvised. I used social media to keep track of these talented guests and what they get up to.
Thanks to Twitter, one of these guests remembered me too. A journalist and Associate Editor for the Australian branch of an online, international news publication.
“Hey, you’re Kirstie from the ABC, right?”
We kept in touch – mainly me bombarding him with questions on how to break into the industry, how to use online news platforms and any other advice he could swing my way.
Until one day, he said, “Hey if you’re interested, we’ve got a casual job going at the moment.” A job that was not advertised online or on their site (trust me, I checked!) and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Job details were exchanged, he provided me the email address of the News Editor and three days later I was sitting an interview. That afternoon, that contact became my work colleague after I was offered the job.
Keeping in touch reminded this contact I was still here, proved that who you know does help, and gave me industry advice I now relay to fellow journalist job seekers. And all it took was maintaining my contacts!
Thanks Josh – I hope to return the favour some day!