As the economy continues to improve, more and more workers are contemplating leaving their current employers in search of greener pastures. The lure of better of a pay raise or just a fresh start has many workers who would otherwise be timid about changing employers ready to take the plunge. The pull doesn’t always stop there, and many workers fantasize about leaving their employer on less-than-stellar terms. And while most people are politically adroit enough to avoid overtly burning a bridge some—in their haste to move on to the latest adventure in their career —many squander once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to build the foundation of a solid professional network.
Building a quality professional network may be the single most important element of a successful career. Here’s how to quit your job the right way.
- Connect. You should try to connect with the people at your current job before transitioning to your next—even those that you don’t particularly like. Sometimes today’s rival is tomorrow’s key contact. Some of the people I wasn’t particularly fond of when we worked together became good friends, mentors, and important contacts.
- Stay in touch. Social media makes staying in touch seem effortless, but if you never pick up a phone, set up a lunch, or express any sort of interest beyond trying to sell something or finagle a job from your contacts you won’t garner much success. Social media is just a tool, the real connection comes from social skills and old-fashioned networking.
- Help people. Just like you, your contacts will have ups and downs in their careers. Be generous with your help; it will make you feel better, genuinely help someone in need, and deepen your friendships and professional connections. And don’t keep score, people remember when you do them favors and don’t need to be reminded that they owe you. In fact, if you do have to remind someone that they owe you a favor than you probably never were really connected in the first place.
- Be gracious. Your relationship with your former employer, colleagues, and even vendors and customers is something that you will carry for the rest of your career. Telling someone off feels great for about 15 minutes, but leaving a positive impression feels good for a lifetime.