Phase 4: Follow-Up
Once you think you are done, you aren’t done! There’s a need to follow-up, show your appreciation, and continue to scan for challenges and win/win opportunities. When you find those opportunities, this is likely where a mentoring relationship can start.
- Stay in touch habits. Are you reaching out just to connect or to offer value? Consider what opportunities might be missed and take action to make the most of each opportunity. I learned this lesson from many mentors but none more so than Dinah Cohen, the long-time Director of the Department of Defense Computer/ Electronic Accommodations Program. She would have pre-meetings to discuss the upcoming meetings (making new connections), conduct the meeting, and then have a post-meeting to discuss outcomes. We would use the post-meeting discussion to identify appropriate follow-up tactics to make the most out of the relationships. Dinah lived life enthusiastically and part of that was her unending energy and commitment to networking. So please recall this lesson: if you want to make a difference, start by making the most of each opportunity and that includes what you do after your networking meetings and how you feed relationships.
- Use social media wisely. How intentional are you in using platforms for career networking? How much time do you invest in social media compared to your return on this time investment? Be intentional and be targeted. And when someone does support your efforts or react to you, make sure you respond in a timely manner. Whenever possible, turn the priority of social media connections into video or teleconference meetings. And, when possible, get together in person.
- Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up! People are busy and you may need to inquire a second or third time. Certainly, always do it with respect for the individual’s time.
- Make the ask. When you identify someone in a network you want to gain deeper insights from, this is likely an opportunity to ask for a mentoring relationship. This is when you need to clarify what you want, the time commitment you seek, and that you will be in charge of the path. Consider creating a cadre of mentors, individuals you can tap into for different purposes at different times.
- Join a community to discover, learn and connect. These can be associations or networks and can be online, in-person or a combination of both.
- Mentor someone. I truly believe the best path to discover mentoring is to mentor someone. Volunteer your time and impact someone’s life! You will then better understand how to engage mentors after that experience. You will gain new tools and approaches from different types of programs and can take those into your other relationships. And, as the saying goes, you get what you give. You will certainly get more out of the mentoring relationships than you imagined.
- Share your stories on networking and mentoring. We need more awareness of the importance of relationships, relationship-building, networking and mentoring as disability inclusion strategies.
- Say thank you. Do this in a unique way, something that will set you apart from others and will be tied to your personal value proposition.
Phase 4: Follow-Up Activities
After reviewing the model, and perhaps practicing, you should now consider how to make networking part of your routine. Try the following: • Join a community to discover, learn and connect. List three groups you would like to join to meet new contacts (such as a school club, a LinkedIn group, or a professional network): 1. 2. 3.
- Mentor. There are many individuals who will benefit from your time and experiences. Who might you be able to mentor? Recall, by mentoring someone you also can practice your networking skills and become a better mentee! Name three groups you can approach to volunteer to mentor someone: 1. 2. 3.
- Share your stories on networking and mentoring. Write a social media post about your networking and mentoring experiences. Submit an article to a journal or paper. Share the impact the experiences had on you and the people you met.
- Say thank you. Write to someone that made a difference in your life through sharing and caring. Tell them how they made you feel and show your appreciation.
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