Your network is one of your most important assets. A robust network can play an integral role in both your personal and professional development. Below are a few tips to help you create, cultivate, and maintain a productive network.
LinkedIn is a wonderful tool, and when used strategically it can play a major role in developing and maintaining your network. Build out your LinkedIn profile so that people can see your background. Include information about your positions, companies that you have worked for, professional activities outside of work that you have been involved in, papers you have published and your educational background. Add a professional picture so that people can associate a face with your name. When you meet people at events and send a LinkedIn invite, be sure to mention where you met them, and customize the note with information about your conversation so that you are memorable. This way, you won't get lost in the abyss of people who just use the general LinkedIn connection template. Many individuals who network frequently may have tens or even hundreds of LinkedIn requests. Finding ways to stand out is Key.
Use the "Share an update" feature on LinkedIn for important updates, so that your network is informed. This can be used to share information about an upcoming presentation that you are giving at a national conference, a milestone for your company, such as a large grant award or partnership, or a high-profile paper that you authored, which was just accepted.
Find ways to connect with industry leaders
Finding ways to keep in touch with your network will go a long way to cultivating meaningful relationships. Stay on top of news and important information by reading sites like Mass High Tech, Xconomy, Innovation Economy, etc. When you see news of interest to your network, send them a short email about it. For example, maybe a connection of yours works for a company that just received venture funding. Write them a congratulations email. Maybe another friend just published a paper in a high profile journal such as Science, Nature or Cell. Send them a note to show them your interest and congratulate them. If you see that one of your connections is speaking at a large conference and you will be there, send them a note about connecting for a coffee during the conference.
With today's tools, there are many ways to keep in touch. Leverage them, and watch the quality of your relationships grow as you build a strong and robust network!