Created on 2016-12-26 13:34
Published on 2016-12-26 13:41
Everyone knows it’s important to build a network for both your personal and business life, right? But once you’ve made that connection, how do you build upon it over time so that you can call the person when you need help (e.g., a job reference or a professional favor)?
Networking is linked to many measures of professional success — including getting promoted, having influence, earning more money, and feeling more satisfied in your career. Many people think that having a good network is merely a large database of contacts, or attending high-profile events. Most people miss that important step of picking up the phone and strengthening the personal connection. Instead, they wait until they need something. Seasoned networkers are givers, and take every opportunity to give to, and receive from, the network, whether they need help or not.
First, make a clear-eyed determination about who in your network you want to prioritize, group your contacts into “buckets” of categories — for example, prospect, potential clients, current clients, influential colleagues, and people who are the real “matchmakers” or just people you really like to interact together. Then create a plan and use a contact system to best stay in touch and track how you can help your network. I suggest you audit your contacts every six months and ask, who should I add, who should I “re-prioritize?” I am not saying you won’t talk to them because they are re-prioritized, it’s just not going to be as often. Simply put, bringing new people into your circle and staying in touch with longtime contacts is a balancing act. Continuously introduce people you’ve just met to others in your network, providing you an opportunity to learn about both of them.
Show you care
Think about the system or tools you will use to stay in touch. I recommend a CRM system tagged for networking and then stay in touch using social or networking events, Email, phone calls, coffee or grab a cocktail type social gatherings, and most importantly handwritten notes — a lost art in today’s digital world! The key to maintaining a strong network is to be present with the people in your circles so that, if you require their assistance down the road, “you are still top of mind and easy to recall.” So continuously take steps to show you care about the other person and that you’re interested in his or her life,” Good relationships need to be nurtured. If you approach the relationship-seeking how to contribute you will be an asset you’re your ability to reach out for help when you need it will be met with assistance. Contributing or helping your network is a great thing to do and you should get some type of personal satisfaction for the experience, but helping just to gain favor will easily be identified by the network as a shallow or insincere gesture— the opposite of your goal. Treat every relationship with respect, be genuine and sincere and you will be more likely to create a sense of respect and strength of character.
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