How do I network with people when I don't need a job?
February 8, 2010 3:58 PM   Subscribe

How do I network with individuals when I don't need a job? I recently met a person who I think could be really helpful next time I'm looking for a job, but that likely won't be for a couple of years. How do I keep in touch in the meantime?

On a flight last week, the woman sitting next to me gave me her business card and told me to get in touch if I ever needed a job. She lives in my area, has an interesting career and seemed legitimately willing to help me out.

It seems like staying in touch with this woman could be extremely useful, as she's a consultant to a number of businesses and non-profits in my area and has a lot of connections and experience with different companies and organizations.

However, I currently have a job that I love. I likely won't be looking for a new career for at least a couple years and don't feel like I could contact her years from now and say "Hey, remember that girl you sat by on your flight in January 2010? That's me! Can you help me find a job?"

What are some good ways to go about staying in touch with her? I don't work in the same field as her and we really only chatted briefly during a quick flight.
posted by JannaK to Work & Money (11 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The whole purpose of networking is to meet people before you need a job.

Invite her for coffe quarterly. Have lunch every six months or so. Forward her news articles that are pertinent to her industry. Introduce her to people you think would be good for her network.

posted by dfriedman at 4:01 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd email very soon, tell her you enjoyed meeting her, and thank her for her time. Then, I'd ask for some general advice. Ask whether she could recommend books about some topic you're both interested in, or whether she knows of local professional organizations you should be joining. Ask whatever you've always wanted to know about her job. People, especially those outgoing enough to talk with strangers on planes, love talking about themselves and giving advice. Soliciting her opinion now and periodically over the next few years will allow you to keep in touch.
posted by decathecting at 4:02 PM on February 8, 2010

Would you be willing to add her on LinkedIn?
posted by artifarce at 4:20 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The whole purpose of networking is to meet people before you need a job.

That's the whole thing, right there. If you wait until you need a job, you're not networking anymore, you're job-seeking. And people will be much less kind and helpful when they know/think/sense that you want something from them right now.
posted by rokusan at 4:34 PM on February 8, 2010

email her and ask if you can volunteer your time to a non-profit she's involved with.
posted by nadawi at 4:46 PM on February 8, 2010

Also, remember that it's far more important for you to identify how you can help other people, rather than how other people can help you.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:56 PM on February 8, 2010

You meet up for coffee or to ask for advice or just to talk about the field, as a professional colleague.
posted by desuetude at 4:58 PM on February 8, 2010

Networking is also called "making friends". Said friends don't have to be good, close friends, but that's more or less what it is. Try looking at it through that lens. This person is an acquaintance. What would you normally do if you met someone interesting and wanted to continue to be friendly with them. Do that.
posted by anastasiav at 6:46 PM on February 8, 2010

Best answer: Might I suggest the book "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferazzi. It has some specific tips for how to go about networking, including always send a follow up email immediately, before they forget you.

Furthering what KokyRyu said - if you ever find anything that you think might be relevant to her, helpful to her, etc. send it along to her with a little note.

- It's a way to keep in touch.
- It indicates you remember her & think of her.
- It indicates you're interested in things that are relevant to her.
- If the stuff you send is actually interesting/helpful to her, she'll be (slightly) indebted to you.
- She'll get a better sense of who you are through the kinds of things you send.

Be sure to always add an additional insight to whatever you send along, and don't be afraid to send contacts you make, or suggest her to people who may be in need of her service.

And yeah, lunch or coffee from time to time.
posted by MesoFilter at 8:08 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all, these have been really helpful suggestions. I'm going to e-mail her right now.
posted by JannaK at 5:43 AM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: What a great question, and answers. I know you've already emailed her, but maybe you can set up some kind of mentoring relationship with her (which people have already alluded to, while not explicitly calling it that) at some point. Maybe you can email her every now and then to just ask her a general question about work that's related to both your fields, or how to deal with a certain work situation, if you think she'll give you good advice.
posted by foxjacket at 6:30 PM on February 9, 2010

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