Relationship management: The costs of not following up

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Recently, I have been in the midst of a career pivot. I currently work in marketing insights/research and had been looking to make the switch to the media sales side of the business. Since I work at Yahoo presently and quite enjoy the company, my preference was to stay. However, not only is it pretty hard to make this jump internally, I have been waiting for nearly a year.

Of course the Millennial in me wants to sprint fast and faster, so I started to get a bit anxious. It was time to start looking externally. So the first thing I did was reach out to my network. After a few introductions, it spiraled from there and before you knew it I was having an average of five meetings a week, either with multiple people from the same company or new conversations all together. I had to create a Google Doc to keep track of everything, the most important part being who had made each introduction.

Why you say was that the most important reason for creating the rolling history of my meetings? If you are asking that question, you are going about relationship management ALL WRONG.

People are busy. Mentors and friends are not just gliding through life with nothing on their plate, especially in New York City. So when someone goes out of their way to make an introduction to help YOU, you need to follow-up with them on what the result of that introduction was, even if you don't end up taking a job with that lead.

For instance, I made a great connection with the head of sales at one of the companies I was speaking to during my job hunt. That single relationship led to about 10 other introductions to new companies I would have had no way into had it not been for my new friend. Not only did this expand my opportunities for jobs, it expanded my network instantly.

Although I ultimately ended up taking the offer at Yahoo (got my DREAM job amidst getting offers from outsiders), those connections and meetings I had at those companies were invaluable. I met some amazing people who will likely be in my network for a long time to come. The first thing I did once I officially accepted the offer at Yahoo, was email my friend and offer to take him out to dinner for all his help.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow-up and thank the people who have helped you along the way. It could have been a quick intro, a kind word they spoke to someone else, anything. Being thankful and humble are the most important skills you need to learn and master in order to keep climbing the ladder. It's common sense, but I can't tell you how many young people have crossed my path and gotten this part dead wrong. In making that single error, it can unravel multiyear relationships in an instant. I know that people I have helped who didn't take two minutes to reach back out and thank me certainly won't be getting my help the next time they reach out for a favor. However, if you manage your relationships diligently, it will open up new worlds for you, both personally and professionally.

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