I recently had a call from someone who asked me 'Where do I start with my networking and what kind of simple plan can I follow?" I realized it was time to list a brief review when someone poses that question to you.
I'm sure YOU are doing all of the steps listed below, so pass this along to a friend who might be rusty on keeping the process going.
1. Each month identify three to five people you know and explore ways that they can introduce you to an additional two to four people. Find an approach you’re comfortable with and engage them in a discussion.
- Call, email, text or write a note and propose a meeting to share connections.
- Engage them in a conversation about their business and their needs always with an eye toward giving rather than receiving. This is key and mandatory.
- Invite them to a seminar, event, or to be your guest at a business-related program.
- Forward an article that you read on line or print. I get many from Google Alerts and the Wall Street Journal.
- Look beyond the obvious friends, relatives and colleagues when exploring the vast universe that is your potential strategic network.
- Research and track past colleagues through social media sources like LinkedIn and Facebook. I have reconnected with so many wonderful people this way and it is simple to do. I look at LinkedIn and Facebook twice a day and always have a reason to reach out to at least 5 people on both platforms. (You are nurturing your network.)
- Reconnect with college and high school alumni through social media and alumni associations.
- Often we get so focused on trying to establish a client relationship with specific 'titles' that we might fail to leverage other relationships for networking purposes. We learn from all types and some of our best connectors may come from someone outside your comfort zone.
- Devote time to keeping track of and recording personal and business facts about every one of your personal and business contacts. Go back and hone your "Information Bank". I will send it out again if you send me an email.
- Personal history
- Business background and future plans
- Family and lifestyle information
- Special interests and religious/political affiliation
Never allow fear of jeopardizing a relationship prevent you from networking.
- Remember that you are an expert at what you do and you are getting better daily.
- Your contact may have a pressing need or concern that either you or another professional in your network can alleviate.
- The opportunity to work together is much more likely to deepen your friendships than to hurt it.
- Make sure you prepare prior to any networking opportunity event. Remove all distractions and focus on listening when at the event and commit to following-up.
- Go back, review and modify your "Networking Checklist" on assisting you in developing and implementing what to do before, during and after any event to help you get the maximum effectiveness for your efforts.
Again, a simple plan to follow, however modify it and make it work for you. Networking is an onging,consistent process.