The 3 Most Important Career Contacts


how to networkThis post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.

When it comes to networking, there are the “easy” people to stay in touch with. The old co-worker you still get monthly drinks with. The connections you see regularly at industry functions. Your first boss.

But I probably don’t have to tell you that the easy way out isn’t always the best.

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.

In other words, when you’re thinking about building and fostering your network, don’t simply reach out to the most obvious contacts. In particular, be sure to make time to connect with the three kinds of people below.

1. Someone Who Pushed You to Do Your Best

Whether it was a coach, a professor, or an interim supervisor, someone in your past pushed you—hard. This person always called you out for phoning it in and constantly made sure you were giving your all.

At first, you may be inclined to stay in touch only with those who thought you were amazing from the get-go. But think about it: The person who pushed you not only thought you were great—he or she saw that you had even more potential. And when it comes to future career opportunities? That’s definitely someone you want on your side.

So, how should you keep in touch? This person was pushing you to be your best, so a great time to reach out is when you’re killing it—when, say, you’ve earned a big promotion or received an award. Fill your contact in on your latest accomplishments, thank him or her for all the support over the years—and then ask for any advice on how you can continue to grow (because you know you’ll get it).