We live in a hyper-connected world where you:
- Do not need to know someone to connect with
- Can easily find someone on the web
- Can increase your online connections by hundreds every day
Maybe not all the above is great but the most critical aspect is: With how many of your connections have you interacted in 2015?
If your answer is >100 then bravo! You are doing an amazing job and you are probably representing less than 5% of concerned individuals. Most of individuals struggle to find the time to nurture their network.
When I discuss about business networking with my peers, I can see them falling under two categories:
- I need to network but I hate it. How do I make it work?
- I love networking but it takes too much time. How do I prioritize?
If you fall in the category (2), we’ll discuss some actions you can take to nurture your professional network.
Keep your professional connections alive and create value for both you and your connections.
1. ASK THEIR OPINION
One of the goals when creating a professional network is to transform it into a support structure for your career and business. Reaching out when you have a need and you know the contact who will be able to assist you. Inquire about other matters during the interaction and of course, thank your contact for the help.
2. MEET IN PERSON
Meet local contacts periodically for a lunch or a drink. If you travel, try and meet on the occasions when you’re both in the same city. Before you begin your trip, look who might be there and send them a message to meet up.
3. MAKE INTRODUCTIONS
It is highly likely that some of your contacts might find beneficial to be connected. When you feel there is a good reason do not miss this opportunity but make sure that both parties have agreed before making the introduction. By doing so you create around yourself a good reputation of “connector” and the effects will come back as a professional karma.
4. PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL LEADS
If you hear of a job opening, board position, speaking opportunity, writing assignments and special projects think about your contacts. Let the appropriate people in your network know.
5. CONGRATULATE THEM
When a connection is promoted or changes professions, send a congratulatory note. Use the opportunity to catch up and provide an update on your own status. Some people have hard time to congratulate others in a business setting as negative attitudes such as envy and jealousy might come into play. Well, think about that with a positive attitude and perseverance you will be able to achieve similar results.
6. SEND LINKS BUT PERSONALIZE THEM
Have found an interesting article or information? When you send it, explain (unless it is straightforward) why the content you are sharing could be useful for them. Do not send too many links to the same person.
Even if you do not have a real reason to reach out a connection you can always send a short note to check in. Inquire about professional developments and provide a brief update about yourself.
8. RE-INTRODUCE YOURSELF
The truth is we connect with so many people on networks like LinkedIn that for some people we can’t remember why or when we connected. Perform periodic network housekeeping and reach out to these contacts, conceding that losing touch is sometimes inevitable, but that you’re interested in what’s new with them.
9. DON’T WAIT THE NEXT CRISIS
When you have active relationships, it feels much easier to ask for help, advice or information. That is why is so important to keep nurturing and growing your network for your long-term career success.
10. SELECT STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS
Integrating online and offline networking can be an effective way to build relationships with a select group of professionals. This approach is most effective when limited to few strategic relationships we wish to cultivate. What matters most in building relationship is the frequency and quality of the interaction, not the length of time spent. Make sure to keep in touch regularly by forwarding a relevant article or a quick update on some new career development.
11. GET HELP WITH TECHNOLOGY
There are CRM-SaaS platforms that can be used to help you scheduling actions to nurture your network. Check-out Contactually.
Be genuine, provide unconditional help and connect people. Whatever you do for your network, your network will give you back: Happy Karma Networking!