I've been spending some time on LinkedIn lately. Truthfully, it's long overdue. Some time in the last two or three years, the social media site added the endorsement feature. I've had the good fortune to been endorsed by friends and professional colleagues and I hadn't made the time to reciprocate. As a connector, I've always been careful about who I give a reference for or make a recommendation about. And so, with care, I'm in the midst of going through hundreds of contacts, identifying what I believe to be their professional strengths and giving them my own online vote of confidence.
What started out as a time consuming "to do" task has turned into a blessing. There have been a handful of my contacts that have changed jobs, added to their training and one even moved to a new province during the time I was on leave with my daughter. Via LinkedIn, I've congratulated these people and checked in with them to see how their new roles and experiences are working out for them and their families.
If you don't already have a contact management system, I encourage you to think about leveraging your LinkedIn profile for more than searching for your next job. Create a schedule so that you connect with your most beneficial people in your network at least once in 18 months. Invest the time in in-person meetings, phone chats or even a quick hello message. It's a great chance to find out what people are up to, stay current with what's going on in your field, and let them know what's new with you too. Remember, professional networking should be a long-term, continuous process. Reaching out only when you are on the job hunt does not cut it.