I don’t consider myself a great networker. I think it’s the introvert in me. Frankly, I’d rather spend my free time in a quiet setting with some close friends or my family. But occasionally, I’ve been known to branch out. It’s just not in my nature so I have to work at it.
But I’ve always believed in the power of networking and I’ve always admired those professional networkers who are masters of their craft. I’m not talking about the slimy, salesy kind that make you turn away when you see them coming from across the room. I’m talking about the ones that do it right. And yes, it can be done right.
There are a million and three (I counted) posts and articles on how to be a better networker. Tips and tools of the trade on how to master the art. I thought of writing the million and fourth article, but first, the world doesn’t need that and second, I’m not qualified. So, I figured I’d contribute in another way by posting a recent idea I had on post-networking (a term I just made up).
This idea doesn’t have to be attached to a traditional networking event. It’s for anyone in business who would like to develop, maintain and nourish relationships of any kind. It’s all about giving when it’s not expected. That’s when it matters the most.
We all have a handful of “zingers” in our Rolodexes, right? Folks we greatly admire with whom we’d like to stay in touch. But the years have their way of deteriorating the relationship, until you need something form them. And nobody appreciates a relationship that only rekindles each time there’s selfish interest.
And I think we all can agree- giving value without any expectation of a reward or compensation is like the golden rule. That’s how you make a much deeper impact. So I wondered- if it’s so obvious, why do so few people do it? Why is it so difficult to master such a simple thing as reaching out to an old friend or colleague to see how you can help them?
I came to two main conclusions. First, we’re all busy. And who has time to think of others? Well, just the most successful people around, that’s who. You’ll have to figure that one out. Second, we forget. We have no system in our lives to rope us in and help form the habit.
At least, until now.
So try this and see if it makes a difference. Open a new spreadsheet document and put it somewhere easily accessible to you. Maybe Google Drive, Dropbox, or right on your desktop. Next, put a cool name at the top. Something like, Rotating Network. Maybe you can do better. After that, start listing names of the people you most admire with whom you’d like to maintain and build your professional relationship. Friends, entrepreneurs, professionals, mentors. Keep the number of columns simple- a name, maybe the best way to contact them. And a column for notes.
Once a day, take five minutes of your day to reach out to the person at the top of the list. Thank them, wish them well or provide something of value to them. Maybe you found an article in their industry that could help. Write a hand written thank you card or an unexpected recommendation on LinkedIn. Just provide value to them in some way.
Once you’re done, cut and paste the name to the bottom of the list and save and close the document. Tomorrow, do it all over again.
Start with a simple list and build as you go. When you meet someone with whom you’d like to develop and build a relationship, simply open the document and write in their name and contact information. They’re automatically entered into your “system” of networking and you are now guaranteed to keep the relationship alive, as long as you follow the system.
Just one simple rule to keep in mind: it’s all about the other person. Give with no intention of receiving in return. Just give. One day or week at a time, one person at a time. The Rotating Network list could be the thing you’ve been missing.