Millennials: How a Simple ‘Thank You’ Can Revive Your Network

Daily Muse columnist Sarah Mccord recently wrote bout the three most important people to stay in touch with and how to do it. These included someone who pushed you to do your best; a contact who offered to put in a good word; and the best assistant or intern, ever.

“Given the unpredictability of work (i.e., you never know when you’re going to need your connections the most) and of networking (think: the person you’re certain will open doors is on a month-long tour of Europe), staying in touch with a wide array of contacts is more important than you might think,” she noted. “In other words, when you’re thinking about building and fostering your network, don’t simply reach out to the most obvious contacts.”

Her insights inspired a particular thought about gratitude and how a simple ‘Thank you’ can reignite a fizzled connection and refuel your network.

As millennials, it can become second nature to just contact a professor, internship coordinator or former boss about new job opportunities, lauding our current successes—and lamenting challenges—and asking for help. This is often top-of-mind among young professionals because it is the typical and easiest way to network.

But a quick “Thank you” that has the undertone of “I need nothing from you… today,” goes a long way, especially if you’ve been so busy climbing the career ladder (and defying millennial stereotypes) that you’ve barely made the time (or conserved the energy) to send a quick hello.

I’ve found this to be successful in my own life. A simple ‘Thank You’ card has helped break the ice and erase the awkwardness of having not kept in contact with people as much as I should have. A nice, genuine note reminding the three key people mentioned above how they’ve positively impacted your life is not only good for the soul and morale, but will set you apart from all the others in their networks constantly asking for things (like references, job leads or just a shoulder to cry on.)

Think about the last time someone thanked you for something versus taking credit, gloating, pacifying or scolding. How did it make you feel? Were you more inclined to help or pay extra attention to the person giving the gratitude? I know I certainly was and continue to be.

There are so many people in the world focused on results, accolades, power moves and tough competition that sometimes acts of empathy and gratefulness become as common as a zebra without stripes.

Millennials, I challenge you this week to not only take Mccord’s advice on keeping in touch with the key people mentioned above, but to send them that extra-tailored, without-bogus-fakeness ‘Thank you’ as well. Buy a box of cards, send a Starbucks card, add an anecdote or simply give them a call. I promise it will do wonders.

What are great efforts of gratitude that have helped you maintain solid connections with your network? #Soundoff and follow me on Twitter @JPHazelwood.

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