Monday, May 28, 2012

Networking - a little maintenance every day

There's a woman on LinkedIn who has over 1000 contacts. There are many more who have between 3 - 50. Neither size of network is more success than the other. There is no 'winning' the network pool. It all depends on how you maintain the network, not how you add to it.

A well-maintained network is ready to help with a crisis - yours or someone in your circles. It has relationships that go beyond a filed business card.

Maintaining a network can be done - like gardening - in big chunks or a little effort every day.

Feeding suggestions
  • Send out interesting articles targeted to folks who might actually want to read them, one small group a day/week/month.
  • Remember the anniversaries and celebrations of those in your inner circles and participate where appropriate.
  • Take folks out for tea once in a while. Or meet for a drink. A walk. A phone call.
  • Make sure your contact information stays up-to-date or latest news gets broadcast.
  • Say "thanks!" when someone helps you out.
  • Solicit ideas from your network - even on small things - just to open a conversation.

Weeding suggestions
  • Don't feel you have to respond to every call for help if you a) don't really know the person or b) have no advice/lead/contact to offer. Networking is not dependent on how much you put in but the quality of what you put in.
  • Spend more time on those on your inner circle than outer. Cherish those who might cherish you back over expanding the frontiers of your network. (unless, of course, you have time for both)
Planting suggestions
  • Follow up with new(er) contacts soon after you meet them so both of you can remember the context that prompted the connection.
  • Make a coffee or drink into a threesome or fourseome!- you don't have to do everything one/one and sometimes it's fun to introduce new or interconnected folks.
  • Solicit ideas from your network - even on small things - just to open a conversation.
There are tons of little things you can do every day without every attending a single networking event. Every meeting, phone call or email is an interaction that can build your network with sincerity and appreciation.

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