By now you must know the importance of networking and building academic relationships in college with peers, academic contacts, and those in the business world. However, while networking and building academic relationships as an undergraduate will be beneficial for securing letters of recommendation for graduate school or employment, these connections are equally important to build while in graduate school. You must also learn how to maintain connections with those whom you met while in academia. Even if you easily got that first job after graduation, you never know when a precious contact from the past will mean the difference between a long streak of sudden and unexpected unemployment and a quick recovery. Beyond the professional benefits, you will greatly appreciate the social contact if you keep in touch with your old college friends.
Staying in contact with friends from school is easier now than it has ever been before thanks to our favorite social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Nevertheless, to maintain a real friendship and continue to grow relationships, face time and/or talk time is essential. Make a habit of calling your friends on the phone or chat on Skype. Also, it is inevitable that some of your friends will drift away, and might even ignore your attempts to stay in touch. Don’t let this discourage you; at least you made the effort. Don’t wait for your friends to reach out to you as this may never happen. Instead, actively plan trips if you or one of your friends moved far away from your college town. If you had a favorite activity or annual tradition with your friends while in school, try to keep this going after you have all graduated. Remember, just a little effort can mean the difference in you keeping two or three of your closest friends and you having to create an entirely new group of friends in your new home.
You might have made numerous other contacts in graduate school in a variety of different ways. The types of academic relationships you want to foster will include your favorite professors and other academic administration, former supervisors of internships or other positions, and anyone else you might know already in the professional world. One of these contacts might have even helped you to get the job you currently hold. An easy way to keep in contact with academic professionals is visiting your campus, which may or may not be simple depending on where you find yourself living soon after graduation. Pay attention to the free seminars and lectures given on campus. Showing up to functions such as these will undoubtedly result in you running into your old professors or peers who also had an interest in the field. Plan ahead of time to visit the old companies where you used to work or intern to stay fresh in management’s mind. The next time a job opportunity comes up, or if you find yourself searching for a new position, a past academic relationship you made while in graduate school is likely to put you on the short list for consideration for a job.
The most important part of the relationship-building process is consistency. Creating a presence requires constant upkeep. Random bursts of appearances will not create the connections necessary to build successful professional relationships. Make frequent appearances in your academic community and constantly contribute to your academic field. In other words, make it impossible for people to forget who you are.