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The digital age has seen technology take over nearly everything. That includes trying to find new jobs. Almost every job requires some kind of online application. There might even be testing to determine skills that make a candidate a good match. For that matter, human resources offices often resort to automated software to sift through cover letters and resumes that are submitted. Keyword matching is used to find only the select few that are relevant to a position. Hundreds and thousands of resumes and applications might never be seen by human eyes.

Despite all of this, many jobs are still found because of personal connections between people. In fact, the digital age might have made interpersonal contacts all the more important when looking for work. This is just one benefit of maintaining professional relationships once you have been in the workforce long enough to have accumulated any at all.

Research has shown repeatedly that professionals who maintain the right connections over time can wind up with jobs and careers that offer them multiple benefits:

  • They are promoted more
  • They make more money
  • They enjoy more satisfaction with their work

You need to make a list of everyone you’ve been connected to, and you need to maintain those connections on a regular basis.

Of course, you don’t want to treat everyone on your list equally. In fact, you might want to split your list up into different categories or ‘buckets’:

  • Current clients
  • Potential clients
  • Influencers or colleagues with power
  • Friends who are true connectors
  • People whose company you enjoy

Each group serves a different purpose, but they all add up to essential elements to a well-rounded group of professional connections. As far as how to stay in touch, you don’t have to necessarily make grand and elaborate plans. Sometimes an email will suffice. You can also make phone calls, schedule coffee dates, or go together to social gatherings. Handwritten notes are sometimes a classy move. Just do whatever it takes to stay in their orbit.

Never brag about yourself to those who might help you find work. In fact, don’t even force friendships that don’t get reciprocated enough. Audit your list twice a year for adjustments.

Your best move is to be someone helpful and valuable to them. That might just mean they come to you with job news or offers instead of you asking them for help.