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Maintaining my growing network
If you are growing your network in this environment, then you are to be congratulated. That means you are reaching out to new and existing contacts to nurture and engage in mutually beneficial relationships. The key here is EXISTING relationships. If you are trying to accumulate a multitude of brand new contacts, then maintenance is very challenging. However, maintaining a network of people you know is simpler. There is a irrational impulse to meet as many new people as possible. This violates the spirit of networking as I define it. So, a focus on reconnecting with your network to discover the incredible array of information, knowledge, expertise, and yes, contacts they have, is vital. That being said a few pointers on keeping track and therefore keeping the network warm and vibrant.
- Schedule time with your key contacts: List the people that are crucial to your network without regard to your current relations with them. People you know who can and have been very important to you. Invariably, some of them you have lost touch with. How often I hear this disturbing phrase, "Been so busy I don't have time for my friends anymore." Pick the handful of people you have to connect with on a regular basis and schedule a regular meeting or phone call. You don't need a reason to connect, you connect because you need to and want to. It will always make you feel good and provide you with an insight or two. Since I started doing this it has given me great rewards and I stay connected. Hmmm just thought of more people I need to connect with………
- Define and prioritize the rest: Keep a running list of people you need to reconnect with both old and new. People who's view of the world you value. People who you wish had more time to get to know better or whose company you enjoy. Make it a to-do list and make it part of your regular routine.
- Beyond a rolodex or business card file—Take Notes!: Collecting cards and filing them in alpha order or inputting them into you contacts file is a start. But maintaining your contacts new and old requires updates. Adding notes about their family, their job, and their needs. Unless you have a photographic memory, you can not remember all of this. I have a photographic memory, just never any film. 🙂 Seriously, put these updates and notes on the back of the card or input them into your contact database. I have been a cardscan user for many years because of the volume of cards I get.
- Make the process of connecting urgent: If you follow the above, then these are folks you want to see and talk to. Therefore it is important–do not put it off. Avoid anything approaching desperation, except with your inner circle. I constantly test people trying to connect with me, people I have met but do not know me well. I ask them, "Is this important?" More often than not the say it is not and they will connect me later–they face off into the distance. They give up too easily. :)
That's why I call it a lifestyle. Make your connections part of your habit. Maybe just as important as your exercise routine. Connecting can be very aerobic. It breathes life into you and gives you confidence. How is your network doing in this environment? What steps are they taking? How can you help others? Funny thing, the world does get smaller and a small world is much easier to manage.
Thanks for reading. John