As you begin to take a more focused, strategic and planned and life-long contact development and management approach, you will want to build a Board of Directors in the same way you would if you were a business entity. The idea of a Board of Directors is intended to expand your thinking beyond contacting people only for the purpose of learning about openings and to move beyond resume roulette (described in “Leave Happy”). Your Board is an ongoing and vital entity involving “giving and getting” support and ideas so that you build mutual interest and loyalty, and maintain visibility and connection during your work life.
There are several ways to organize your contacts so that you can have direct and meaningful conversations. Here is a starter for your planning and thinking.
Mentors: People who are interested in your career and may have an investment in your success. These may be former bosses or professors or even family members who can guide, advise or direct you as you think through your options. They can often give you feedback on your style or goals.
Connectors: People who know others in your field that you would want to tap into either to be known in general or who can help you get to people whom you want to know. This group often is comprised of consultants, service providers such as accountants, attorneys, educators, financial advisors, real estate salespeople, doctors who may not know of or have a position, but may know others who may. Or they may be able to lead you to helpful informants (below)
Informants: People who can help you research, will lead you to interesting people or ideas, who are savvy about your field. Informants like to get information as well as share it. Social media can expand your database of informants. Industry leaders are often among the best informants…articles, blogs, Linkedin groups and Twitter.
Colleagues: People with whom you you currently work or have worked can be wonderful sources for career advice and leads internally or externally, as they know your value and sometimes have been tapped for positions or have heard of an opening.
Job sources: employer staffing professionals, search professionals, social media groups, company/organization web sites have names of people you may want to note and cultivate through your networking.
Potential business partners/future clients: You may want to consider project work or becoming a free lancer/consultant during your career, or even start your own organization. So including entrepreneurs, funding sources, business leaders, service buyers.
Note: Strategy, persistence and record keeping and follow up are critical to a strong contact management process. These categories will help you think about how you want to approach and nurture your relationships.
Please write to me through my website if you would like to receive a contact management spread sheet.