Whatever system you use to keep track of your friends and colleagues, experts suggest you:

  • Sort contacts into groups, especially if you keep personal and professional contacts in the same database or social networking website.

  • Make notes about contacts so you can remember who they are, where you met and what their expertise is.

  • Keep in touch with contacts by following up with an email after you've met them, commenting on their Facebook posts, writing LinkedIn referrals or using the holiday season to reconnect.

  • Recognize that professors may prefer email to Facebook messages or texting. If you aren't sure, ask.

  • Avoid mass emails — Facebook or Twitter posts are better for alerting your friends and colleagues to new publications and honors. Use email for more personal communication.

  • Update your profiles regularly, especially when starting a new job.

  • Be thoughtful and polite in your communications. If you feel compelled to offer condolences to a colleague who lost a loved one, for example, use a personal letter instead of initiating a public Facebook comment.

  • Don't be afraid to email professors, even if you don't know them very well.

"It's OK to reach out," says Rachel Dinero, PhD, a psychology professor at Cazenovia College. "Academics love to be asked for their opinion."

—E. Leis-Newman

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