You probably have plenty of great friends, mentors and colleagues that you try to stay connected with, and if you don’t, now is the time to start building your network. With a nice rolodex of people lined up, you can collaborate and find new opportunities. It’s nice to have friends, isn’t it? However, your commitment to your network should be more than a pathway to personal gain.
Even if you are just starting in your field, there are always people who could use your help or your unique perspective. For example, one of my professors from college used to be a high profile public relations professional, and his current class required some participation from former students. He believed my view of the marketing and public relations industry as a young professional could give his students an educational experience that was directly applicable to them. Of course, I said yes, taking the chance to help someone who had taught me a lot, both at school and since I had graduated.
The above is a very specific instance, but there are always opportunities to serve the people in your network. You can be a reference for your friend looking for a new job, connect freelancers you’ve worked with to new project opportunities and provide mentorship to those looking to enter your field. Ask not what people can do for you, but what you can do for your people. Offering valuable assistance, no matter how small, is a great way to show the people you’re connected to that you care.
Mutual, symbiotic relationships are the best kind, and the same can be said of your professional connections. Make sure to check in on them. It isn’t hard, and it goes a long way toward establishing your personal brand as a responsive, thoughtful individual.