Now that you’ve built your network using the 5 tips in the last article, 5 Ways to Build Your Network, it’s important to sustain it. Just like anything in life, there is no “set it and forget it.” Sustaining your network requires a bit of attention and a little TLC. But don’t worry it’s not hard or time-consuming. Let’s look at two simple ways to sustain this power network that you’ve worked so hard to build.
- Create a “strategic network list.” Fire up Excel or a Google sheet and make a list of the people you know or recently met, who you think are either:
- Great people to keep in your life, both personally and professionally. They offer great conversation, mutual interests, possible business opportunities, etc.
- People who you want to see again because they have a great network they can potentially refer you into.
Every time you meet someone new (at a networking event, meetup group, or just randomly in line at coffee shop), add them to the list so you don’t forget who they are (this is why I prefer a Google sheet or anything cloud-based so I can add them right from my phone while I’m out and about).
- “Dig the well before you’re thirsty.” For new contacts, send a follow-up email right away. I prefer email over text because it’s easily searchable in the future, and you can reply to that email chain to jog their memory. For everyone else, create a follow-up or “soft” touch strategy. If you’re currently looking for new career or business opportunities, do this a few times per week to drum up as many potential opportunities as possible. If there is nothing pressing, then every 3-6 months is fine. Send a quick note with 1-2 sentences explaining what you’re up to. Then ask about them, their family, any new travel plans, or anything else interesting they might be up to. Close with the suggestion to connect on a catch up call in the next week or so if schedules permit. The idea is to cultivate relationships and be in touch with people before you need something from them. No one wants to hear from you only when you need something. So be a person who is interested in other people, looking for ways you can help without asking for anything in return. Doing this will allow you to more naturally ask for help down the road because they’ll know you’re genuine and more apt to help you.
If you can rinse and repeat this process every few months with a handful of people on your strategic network list each time, you’ll be amazed at the dividends it will pay in your future, opening doors to new opportunities, meeting new people, landing invitations to cool things, and many more ways that will feel like “luck” when really, it’s because of the seeds you planted and intentionally nurtured.
For more strategies to build your network, improve your communication skills, and gain more positive results in your professional and personal life, check out my Career Alignment courses.