In the past few weeks, two things have happened that seem unrelated but lead me to one of the things I wish someone had told me almost 13 years ago: You should maintain a list of companies you have ever worked on, who you worked with, what actions were taken, and how they impacted the project/client. What went right? What went wrong? How did you fix the mistakes? How did the relationship end?
Write it all down. Keep a file on your computer. Keep all the files you are allowed to keep over the years. Back all of that up.
This came from doing two things: updating my LinkedIn list of connections and judging entries for the US Search Awards and the Summer Series here on State of Digital. There are so many great new minds out there and agencies making great impact on client’s successes. The downside is some of them were lacking details.
For LinkedIn, a few failed referrals in the last few years paired with some extra time on my hands meant it was time to remove people I didn’t know. As I crossed paths with former clients, I realized that I could not remember many of the details. I’ve worked with some great people and had some wonderful successes, but if you asked me exact what we did now, I am not sure I could recall. I was lacking the same details!
Maintaining LinkedIn is a task that, while maybe tedious and easily forgotten, can impact multiple very important sections of your career. Having excellent connections, those you know and can provide insights for, can aid in making new connections now and in the future. Being put succinctly, maintaining professional (aka LinkedIn) connections can
- Provide business leads for you now and in the future.
- Get your name in front of a number of related, influential people to your career.
- Lead to an introduction to a new client or new job.
- Get you out of the “interview” stage of life – what I mean by this is at one point, a well connected person no longer goes through the “typical” interview. With the right contacts and referrals, this could be you.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain your list over the span of your career:
- Add how you met to LinkedIn: When you add people to LinkedIn, and add how you met. This feature is “new” (aka, I’m old and it didn’t exist when I joined) and should be used every time you connect with someone. Trust me, it’ll help later.
- Maintain all files you’ve ever worked on with permission. Keep them organized by company name and back them up in the cloud. That goes for all of your files.
- Changing jobs/clients: Everyone waits until they are looking for a new job to update LinkedIn or their resume. (Hello, indication someone is looking!) Do it all the time. When you complete a big project at work (in-house), when you get a new client, or one leaves your agency. Pick one place to update. LinkedIn, your own website, or your resume. When the time comes, you can copy over the information.
- Calendar Reminder: Set a twice a year calendar invite to update this information. If you forget, this will remind you.
This might seem so easy, so logical, but how many of you do this right now? It’s like keeping up with receipts for business expenses. You always mean to and then don’t. Keeping up with these kinds of details make interviews for jobs, pitches to clients, and your resume so much easier. If you are young or new to this career, please start now. If you have been doing this for a while, dedicate some time before the new year, maybe in the December lull, to sit down and hash it all out. Who knows, doing this might reconnect you with past clients and partners that could be the door to a new opportunity now.