Last week I covered 3 Tips to Take the Mystery Out of Networking. This week I’m covering 4 ways to further relationships with people in your network. Keep in mind that it takes a lot of little efforts over time to build a thriving network. It’s never just one thing. So you’ll want to try a mix of the following strategies.
1) Join Groups
Regular contact strengthens relationships. While it’s possible to create consistent touch points with someone completely on your own, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by joining a group. This will make seeing the same people as easy as showing up.
2) Take a Leadership Position
It’s easier for others to connect with you when you’re highly visible. Taking on a leadership position is one way to get more involved and become more known. You can do this within a group you’ve joined or take things a step farther by creating your own group. You could also organize a bunch of people to attend an event together or create a mastermind of similar people.
3) One-on-One Reach Outs
Another strategy is to take time to get together or speak with people on an individual basis. These could be people in your existing network or people you are aspiring to know. You might get together over coffee or lunch to catch up with an acquaintance, conduct an informational interview with someone working within an industry or company you’re interested in, or get to know someone over the phone.
Once you connect with someone one-on-one you’ll want to follow-up authentically down the road by doing one or more of the following. Inquire into how something you previously discussed is going. Share a helpful resource, article, or connection. Or ask for a follow-up get together or conversation.
4) Stay Organized
As your connections grow you’ll want to create a system for keeping track of everyone. You might include information on when and where you spoke, what you discussed, and what an appropriate follow-up might be. Some people will be regularly on your mind without tracking them in a formal system, but others might slip through the cracks if you aren’t careful. This is particularly true of people you touch base with only a couple times a year.
For example, my network has grown over the years to include clients, former clients, colleagues, and other business owners. If I tried to keep everyone in my mind I’d lose track of someone I truly care about. So my personal system is to keep a spreadsheet listing folks I’ve connected with and want to maintain a relationship with. It helps me give those relationships their due attention and frees up my mental space. Every so often I check the spreadsheet and do my best to keep in touch with the folks who are on it. It works pretty well for me. Do what works for you.
Networking from an authentic place feels amazing. It’s wonderful to know that other people are available to support you, and it’s a happy feeling to be of service to others.
Whether you are new to networking or you already have an established network, spend some time in the upcoming weeks developing and attending to your relationships. Doing so will serve you and your career well.
What have you done to strengthen relationships with your network? Leave a comment below!