To borrow from the old real estate adage (Location! Location! Location!), connections are what make a real difference in your job search. Our experience and achievements may be what lands us the job, but our connections open the door.

Making and keeping your personal and professional associations doesn’t have to be complicated nor does it always involve others. Below are 5 ways to help you build and maintain them.

1-Connect with former co-workers. Whether by LinkedIn, email, or phone, reach out to former colleagues with a personal note or greeting. Find out what they’re working on and update them on your own projects. Staying in touch makes it easier for others to remember you and your stellar skills. Maintaining these relationships builds a strong and helpful network.

2-Connect with the on-line conversation. Share relevant articles and industry information, comment on others’ posts and take notice when you hear or read of someone’s job change. Stay up to date on what’s happening with your connections and offer congrats where appropriate. You can also find new groups to join, where you can discuss topics relevant to your field.

3-Connect with your professional network. If you have a specific job or company you’re interested in, check in with your professional network to see if they have any contacts at the company. There is a better chance your resume will reach the right person if you can send it to someone specific. Keep in regular contact with your professional contacts, rather than calling out of the blue when you need a favor.

4-Connect with a prospective company. If there is a company you’re considering working for, learn more about it through on-line research. You can look for information on company culture and see what former employees have to say about working there. Even better, connect with a current or former employee and get details in person. Offer to buy coffee or lunch and listen well.

5-Stay current and connected. Stay on top of news and trends by reading professional publications and consider joining or renewing membership to professional organizations. Connect with colleagues and learn something new.

You can make and maintain connections in a variety of ways. Get started today by reaching out to a former co-worker to see what they’re doing and where they’re working. You never know where it will lead.

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