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Utilizing, creating, and maintaining a strong network of colleagues and friends is vital to a successful career. Here are five tips for networking effectively.

1. Take advantage of your current network.

Networking doesn’t necessarily mean reaching out to new people. Leverage your existing network of contacts to see where they can make introductions.

2. Keep your emails short.

Sending lengthy emails full of detail can leave your contact feeling overwhelmed, and it could even prevent them from responding. Keep your initial outreach friendly, but short and to the point. You can always provide more detail later, after they respond.

3. Try to contact one person a day.

The more proactive you are in your networking, the better. Reaching out to a former acquaintance, co-worker or boss each day will increase the likelihood of getting a response and, ultimately, achieving your career goals.

4. Remember, it’s a two-way street.

The goal of networking is to help others. When one of your contacts makes an introduction or helps you land a job interview, be sure to return the favor by taking them to lunch or making an introduction of your own.

5. Always follow up.

After you meet someone new, start building the relationship by sending a follow-up email a day or two later. Reminding them who you are and how you met is a good way to help them remember you the next time you reach out.

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