By Stefanie Trice Gill

Connecting with other professionals, or “networking,” is key to advancing a career. Immigrant professionals working to re-establish their career need to build a U.S. network of people who care about their professional success. They can help navigate any barriers and introduce other contacts who can help move career goals forward.

My favorite rules for networking come from Betsy Cohen, executive director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project and author of Welcome to the U.S.A. – You’re Hired!, and Ram Lakshmanan, one of the book’s contributors and president of Executive Connections St. Louis.

Their tips include:
Distinguish between different types of contacts

Acquaintances are contacts with whom one has a professional or social relationship. They can help make connections with other contacts; but don’t expect major favors from them. Allies are contacts with whom one shares a mutually supportive relationship. Share successes and challenges with them, and invite them to do the same. Advocates are contacts who may intercede on one’s behalf, help advance goals, or serve as mentors. Respect their time and advice, and acknowledge their efforts.

Use the six-touch rule
At least six “touches” (calls, notes, or meetings) with a new contact are necessary to build a stronger professional relationship and network:

  1. Phone or email to set up a meeting.
  2. Send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
  3. Meet face-to-face (in person or on Zoom).
  4. Write a follow-up email summarizing the meeting, any referrals, and other items discussed.
  5. Write a thank-you note (ideally a card via mail) to express appreciation..
  6. Make a follow-up phone call after the meeting.

Nurture the network
These relationships are important and valuable to your career and reputation. Be sure to respond promptly to any “touches” (calls or notes) from network contacts; keep connected through calls, emails, or LinkedIn messages; take it offline by inviting contacts to meet for coffee, lunch, or events; share updates, especially challenges and successes like getting a new job. Thank them profusely for their support.

Next month, read about how to make a great impression in less than a minute!

Stefanie Trice Gill, MBA, is founder and lead recruiter at IntWork, a diversity recruiting agency that matches BIPOC and immigrant professionals with Maine companies. Contact her at