Are You Nurturing Your Network?
Networking is a skill, and it can be hard to keep up with the extended community you worked so diligently to develop. The follow-up step is the key to maintaining strong professional relationships since the one-and-done effort leaves people feeling ill-used and less than willing to share their time and expertise with you again.
Kevin Eikenberry wrote a great piece for Superperformance.com illustrating how to nurture your network to keep your connections current and make sure they are feeling your professional love. Here are my favorite takeaways.
Commit – make the decision to retain the relationships that matter and nurture your network.
Call Them – instead of sending an email, pick up the phone and call someone. No need to have an agenda or a reason. Just call to say hello and that you are thinking of them. It’s refreshing to call just to touch base instead of always having a request.
Send a Card – the written note is a dying art so you can distinguish yourself with this technique. A brief note of thanks, encouragement, or just to say hello can be a huge opportunity to nurture a relationship.
Learn About Their Interests – know what people are interested in and send them things related to it like, articles, programs, etc. You don’t have to share the same interests to be on the lookout for something they may find useful. It doesn’t have to be professional – finding information about your colleague’s antique model train collection is a great way to touch base and show that you care.
Learn About Their Goals – when you know what other people are working to achieve you are in a better position to assist. Ask them what they need, then listen and look for ways to help.
Offer to Help and then Help – Be a connector, share ideas and information and offer to help when you can. Be sure to follow-up and keep your promises because the connector relationship can be very powerful.
Follow-up – be consistent about following up on all commitments you make. Period.
Don’t Worry About You – keep your focus on helping, aiding, and assisting the other person. The seeds you plant by assisting another will grow into great things for you.
Do it Now – start now and commit to nurturing your network on a regular basis. If your contact list is large then do this incrementally and systematically so the task is enjoyable and feasible. But the sooner the better so get to it!