In any services business it’s critical that a leadership team be not only open to networking, but skilled and hungry for results. There’s no downside and both short-term and long-term results can aid a business. Networking can bring about new talent, new sales or new ideas, so it would seem the activity is an obvious priority for all professionals. That’s why it’s surprising 25 percent choose to not network.
Networking used to follow a traditional path: attend an event, meet strangers and exchange business cards. The advent of social media and the evolution of technology now enables faster, better quality results through MeetUp groups, LinkedIn, Alignable and niche focused events, which all allow people to craft their own best practices.
The personal nature of networking lends itself to differing preferences. For the 60 percent of the population who are shy, building a virtual rapport using email and online resources is more popular. However, research shows 84 percent of networkers prefer face-to-face meetings and those digital conversations should pivot.
Regardless of how you network, these five tenets can help you tap into your network, develop, nurture and maintain your relationships:
Manage meticulously. Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, has a theory that a person can only maintain 150 stable relationships. Whether you have 50 or 150, relationships should be tracked in a CRM, which can be as simple as a Google Doc. It may sound time-consuming, but you will reap unexpected benefits without missing a step.
Give consistently. Receive occasionally. We are surrounded by the “ask” mentality. When in a pinch, what do you do? Ask for help. We aim to practice the 3:1 rule. Be a resource three times before asking for one favor.
Know the details. Your CRM spreadsheet should include a details column with notes such as birthdays, likes or dislikes, interests and family names. You’ll be surprised at how impactful it can be when mentioning these details.
Protect mercilessly. Have you ever received an email containing an introduction but without any context? This is where the “double opt-in” before an introduction is important. This check-in can spare awkward interactions by ensuring these people can actually help one another while also having an interest in doing so.
Expect nothing. Relationships aren’t meant to keep score. What goes around comes around; your reputation will always precede you.
Remember, relationships are a gateway to opportunities and should be nurtured from an initial introduction.
Do you have a success story to share?