Bridges!

One of my former students, Caroline Berry, wrote the following in response to my request for advice from my Facebook friends: “Don’t burn your bridges. This applies in so many situations. If you are let go, be sure not to badmouth the company, your boss, etc, etc. You never know when you will meet these people professionally again.”

This is really good advice, and everyone is probably quite familiar with the concept that you don’t want to say or do anything that will leave a bad impression or hurt your reputation. While refraining from burning a bridge is a great practice to develop, it is also important to maintain your bridges. A bridge that’s been allowed to deteriorate loses much of its value.T

This brings to mind a tip from my book, Tip 31: Stay in touch with your major department and professors who know you well. You may think your classroom performance was remarkable, and it may have been, but the truth is that if you don’t stay in touch consistently, it will only take a few years for your professors to forget you. Then, when you need a reference for graduate school or a recommendation for a job, they may not remember you well enough to provide that important document. And that’s another way that people lose a valuable bridge. It isn’t the loss of a contact through a negative action, but through inaction.

I encourage my students to stay connected with me on LinkedIn and Facebook, but I also want them to stay in touch with others in the department, so I ask them to complete a profile on our “Alumni & Friends” web page. While not every university department is going to have a directory like ours does, there may be some other way for you to stay connected that can keep your memory alive in your professors’ minds, and help you maintain those bridges.

And now we’re back to what I have often said is the most important thing anyone can do if they’re looking for a job: Build your network. Instead of burning bridges, you want to build them, and create more conduits for information about yourself and job possibilities,  Step 4 in my book gives readers 14 different ways to build bridges, and thereby increase their chances of  finding a job. Keep in mind that research says more people find a job through the friend of a friend than through any other resource, so the more people you can add to your network, the better your odds.