A 5-Minute Habit That Changes Your Career

I read something about networking that hit me hard…

Here’s the thing, I’m 26 and still learning about how to navigate my career. Lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to connect with people in my industry — both chatting with peers at events and introducing myself to leaders I look up to. I’ve always known the importance of sending a thank-you letter after interviews, but I typically didn’t do anything else until I read this:

“I’m just stunned at how few people know how to follow up on a connection,” Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, recently told The Cut. “Make sure that you stay in touch with the people you’re interested in, make sure they’re aware of you, that you stay on their radar… It’s remarkable how much these people appreciate hearing from you when you don’t want something from them.”

It’s so true, right? Sending emails just for the sake of staying in touch changes everything. It makes me think back to how I met some of my greatest friends and mentors. Even the simplest notes — the ones that latch on to something the person and I had discussed, like a restaurant recommendation for an upcoming trip or a funny link about a Ethan Hawke movie — can solidify a connection. It reminds me of this comment from Cup of Jo reader Brooke: “Everyone you work with is a human being behind their title, and when I finally applied this to networking, it made small talk much easier. People love to find common ground in pop culture, relationships and humor. It will stand out in a sea of corporate speak.”

Networking might be one of the cringiest words out there, but the more I think of it as just building relationships, it’s so much easier.

Thoughts? What about you? What career advice have you taken to heart?

P.S. 12 great reader comments on career, and how to navigate a career change.

(Photo of Barbara Walterz/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank.)