Your connections: Don't just love 'em and leave 'em.

Love 'em and leave 'em connectors.

I have a handful of these people in my circle, and I'm sure you do, too.

Actually, rephrase.

I can't even say they're "in my circle" because, in order to be in someone's circle, you really need to kind of stick around. Engage every now and then. Say hey, just for the heck of it. Maybe, from time to time, even see if you can lend them a hand.

You know, the types of things we humans do when we're connected.

I have a handful of people in my, um, hemisphere, however, who approach me ONLY when they need something from me.  And when they do? They most often expect that our fictitious bond will be all that is required to earn them my immediate attention, unlimited time and steadfast support.

Don't get me wrong. I adore people. And I will roll boulders, dodge fast-moving traffic (God, I loved the game Frogger) and even listen to endless, painful Barry Manilow tunes in the name of helping just about anyone navigate a job search or make challenging career decisions.

I just don't like feeling used. Nor do the people in your network.

So don't treat them like the Burger King drive-thru.

The people in your circle will go out of their way to help you, to use their influence, to answer your questions and to get you through tough patches in a job search. They will.

So approach them, with strategy and gratitude. Ask them for their opinion, let them know how much you respect their point of view, don't eat up their entire day. And then thank them.

And then...?

Stick around.

Yes, that's right. Even after you've got what you need from them and are rolling on along with your job search, new job or ridiculously rewarding new career path.

Stay in touch with your connections. Follow along with them on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter... IN REAL LIFE.

Ask them if you can help them outfrom time to time. Congratulate them on that promotion, or for winning a big piece of business, or for the birth of their new grandbaby. Wish them a happy birthday. High five them over the Detroit Lions game (Note to Dean E. --> I won the MNF bet last night. Ahem.)

Just don't love 'em and leave 'em.

Your connections are valuable. These relationships will reward you again and again through the course of your career if make just a tiny little effort to keep them solid, genuine and current.

Photo by: Flickr.com Creative Commons (robpatrick)