3 Things You NEED To Do After Graduation: Third Step


3. Organize your network


Note: If you have not read the second step of this three-step series, please go back and read it here. I describe the second step: get a new email address.

As I stated in the beginning of the first of this three-part series, these next-steps can be applied no matter what you chose/choose to do after graduation. Organizing your network is no different than the last two!

Relationships

Now whether or not you feel you received your “money’s worth” out of your college education, what some graduates don’t think about is the value of the relationships they have made during their education. These relationships can be with classmates, teachers, faculty, or any other people you have met that would not have been in the picture had you not attended college. When I say valuable, I don’t mean putting a price on relationships. This is never a good thing because relationships and friendships are priceless. The best way to approach this topic is simply understanding that they can have a positive influence in our lives in many different ways whether that be spiritually, mentally, or physically.

Just like when we graduated from high school, it is impossible to stay in touch with everyone we have developed relationships with in college. Luckily, there a few tricks (and more resources available now) to organizing and narrowing down your core group to a manageable list that will not be overwhelming to keep track of:

Mind Dump

Whether it be on a software spreadsheet or a notebook, start writing down names of people that initially come to mind. Think back to as far as freshman year for this. Don’t worry about writing their contact information just yet, the point of this mind dump is to just get everything on paper/file. There is no minimum or maximum number and these people can be classmates, dorm neighbors, teachers, faculty, friends of friends, and beyond. This normally takes the longest so make sure you are in your most productive state as I have explained before. Tip: before beginning pour yourself a glass of water, coffee, wine, beer, or whatever gets you in a more relaxed mood.

The Bad Eggs

When choosing the people that you want to spend your time and actually make an effort to stay in touch with, skip anyone who for the lack of better words just has bad energy. For whatever reason if they choose to stay in touch with you, fine, give them as much help you choose. Just know that people that are always complaining and negative who have not helped, influenced, or motivated you (or allowed you to do the same for them) during the relationship are just not worth the stress or time that you could be spending staying in touch with other people. Of course, there are always extreme situations where you cannot or choose not to pass over a person like this, but as stated these are special cases. As author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn stated, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” so the more positive, driven, and caring people you choose to have around you, the more you will begin to display these traits. THIS STEP DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON. This simply means you understand and care about your own mental/physical health and well being.

Finishing Touches

This is the easiest part and by nature the quickest to half-ass. After you have your completed list (which I suggest being between 20 and 100 people), the next step is adding the contact information and categorizing them. For the contact information, just write down what the normal way you contact this person whether it be via phone, email, or other means. Filling in every way to contact them is a waste of time, and information you can just get once you need it. Next, apply tags to the relationships. Is it personal or professional? Are they a mentor or a mentee? What industry are they in? These tags can help you organize your contacts in a way that allows you to access them quicker in the future.

Make sure to keep track of the times you do reach out by adding time stamps next to the names to prevent sending duplicate emails. You can also leave a couple notes about the relationships if you want to give yourself a quick refresher and for a more personal touch when you are staying in contact. There are tons of relationship management applications out there as well. One I have been playing around with is called Cloze which allows just about everything I mentioned and more.

Be Available And Give

Being easily accessible is also important. We are not the only ones trying to keep track of our networks, so if you end up on someone else’s list, just make sure you are easy to find on the internet in case someone wants to get in contact with you. Going into these next steps, don’t be so hard on yourself if you end up forgetting about or leaving someone out, it happens. Finally, when you are searching for the next step in your career, it may be hard to initially think about helping out other people and connecting other people, but this is the necessary other side of relationships. As Saint Francis of Assisi said, “it is in giving that we receive” so focus just as much on how you can help others out. You know the feeling, so imagine what a simple referral or connection can bring to someone else.

For homework, check out one of my favorite podcasts called the $100 MBA where Omar (the host) has a well-known business consultant Matthew Kimberely give a great and organized way to stay in touch with your list.

Share your networking stories! Leave a comment with any interesting experiences you have had with your network or email me directly with any questions, comments, or concerns:

betweencollegeandcareer@gmail.com

Next up: Using technology to organize your life

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