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The biggest misconception I hear about building and nurturing a strong network is that it takes a lot of time and is rarely enjoyable.
Neither needs to be true.
Here are three things to consider to make the way you grow and maintain a network one that works for you:
1. You don’t have to be “strategic.”
One of the most fruitful (and enjoyable) things you can do is to prioritize being in relationships with people you enjoy. Even if none of them are or work directly with your target clients, they each represent hundreds, if not thousands, of people they know. And chances are, people within their network are, or work with, your ideal clients. When you click, you get to “know, like, and trust” (thanks, Dale Carnegie) each other with more speed and ease. This will result in people opening other doors for you to other people you’ll want to know. Because you like them and this is a friend or colleague of theirs, you stand a good chance of also enjoying the company of this new person with whom you might be able to do or refer business.
2. No one in your network needs to be famous or well-known.
However, being in trusting relationships with people who are superconnectors (i.e., those who are the hub in a wheel and are connected to all sorts of people in different industries, regions, levels of business, etc.) is key. They will be fast tracks either to first-degree connections you want to know or second-degree ones who are other superconnectors. These people are likely not well-known beyond their networks, but they have impeccable reputations and their introductions carry weight, which helps you warm up any relationship they generate for you.
3. You can spend five to 10 minutes a day and be in touch with your entire core network in two to three months.
How? If you spend five to 10 minutes each weekday (or 25 to 50 minutes one day each week) reaching out to three to five people in your network, you’ll have reached out to 15 to 25 people per week, 60 to 100 a month, or 180 to 300 in three months. Since the average number of people with whom any person can be in a relationship with is 150-ish (thanks, Dunbar’s number), you’ve been able to have a touch point with all of them in two to three months. What do you do in those five to 10 minutes? Send a text, voice text, or direct message, comment on a social media post, make an off-the-cuff phone call (leaving a voicemail), or send an email. Your remarks can be as simple as, “You came to my mind just now and that spurred me to check in. How are you? How’s that ____ (thing they told you about last time) going? I hope all is well and that you receive the good energy I’m sending your way!” Certainly, you also want to nurture some relationships with more depth than a quick text or email. But allow this to be a baseline reminder that even in busy seasons, you can (and should) carve out time to stay connected to the people in your orbit. Not only will it feel good, but you can’t “drink from an empty well.” When the time comes that you need something, you’ll be glad you kept the well full.
Is your sales team helping to build your company’s network?
Most companies are building company / customer loyalty by building a network through email marketing programs. It has become a very important tool to build loyalty. Is your team consistently inviting customers to participate in your loyalty program? Our mystery shopping experience has shown that customers aren’t being asked to join when the boss isn’t around. Let us measure that for you along with all the other required deliverables you have trained your team to deliver.
What’s one thing you can take from these reminders or tips to help you build and nurture your network?
BY DARRAH BRUSTEIN AND CARL PHILLIPS