Our habits play a critical role in our success. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” One crucial habit to develop for career success is to maintain your connection with others. It’s simple but not easy.
What can you do consistently to make sure that you are top of mind within your network? Shoot for an interaction once every three to six months—and make it easy. Set a goal for yourself in order to make sure you keep your word. Calendarize your habit—block out 15 minutes one morning per week to get it done—to make it easy to reach your goal.
Keep up with LinkedIn notifications and when there’s something relevant (job change, work anniversary, etc.), dash off a quick note. If you can help someone with a reasonable amount of effort, do so. When something reminds you of a colleague, let them know. It gives you an excuse to contact them. These interactions make you more valuable because you usually learn about new opportunities and new ways in which other companies are solving problems. Remember, when you’re reaching out, you’re not asking for anything—you’re just reminding them that you exist.
Naturally, if you’re job hunting you’ll want to ramp up the frequency (aim for every three to six weeks) and target your message appropriately. It will be a whole lot easier (and more fun) if you have made a habit of staying in touch with your colleagues when you didn’t need them.