Networking and relationship building are critical for almost every successful career path. Don’t overlook anyone, including your co-workers. The connections you build and nurture now may open doors later as careers progress.
Nail down the details
At the end of each project sit down together and write file notes. Include details about the roles and responsibilities of each person, and list information about challenges and outcomes. Specific information about how you worked together, and the strengths you each brought, can be very useful for you as future contacts. You can also do this informally over a debriefing lunch. Nailing down these details makes it more likely your coworker will think of you when a similar opportunity becomes available. The memory is also a great opener if you ever need to ask for an introduction or reference.
Collect personal contacts
Personal contacts give you access even after the business email has been reassigned and the work phone returned. Use these to check in occasionally, as appropriate. For example, you can send birthday wishes or share an article about something you know interests your coworker. Maintaining contact before you need a favor is the right way to nurture business relationships.
Join professional associations
Meetings and socials provide opportunities to connect outside of work. Professional associations establish you as someone “on the same team” even if you no longer work in the same office. Obviously, they also give you access to former coworkers thus improving the chances they will be contacts.
Most everyone understands the value of networking and relationships. To make coworkers future contacts, share something about your career goals. Ask if you can call on them in support of these goals and offer to be a resource in return.
Be someone coworkers want future contact with
Success is rarely achieved in a vacuum. You are more likely to be successful when others are willing to invest in your success. Be the kind of person others root for and want to go to bat for. That means cultivating emotional intelligence. Understand how people experience you and work to improve poor relationships. The bottom line is some positive connection is needed to create a successful contact.
Coworkers often know more about your skills and strengths than your supervisor, because you work more closely. Don’t overlook them as future contacts. As you move along in your careers you can serve each other as a valuable resource. Build the connection now and nurture it going forward. Investment in future contacts is an investment in career success.