Having a large network is great, but you must nurture these relationships. Otherwise, people can quickly forget about you. The goal is to stay “top of mind,” which can only happen if you make regular efforts to stay in contact and engage in meaningful communication with people, preferably one-on-one.
To build relevant and genuine relationships, consider a few basic principles:
- Do not force connecting with someone. It needs to be a two-way relationship.
- Commit to not seeking gain for yourself, but rather, view each person as an opportunity to challenge your thinking, to learn, find commonalities, and add value to their journey in some way.
- Finally, givers find more success and fulfillment in the long run than those who seek a tit-for-tat arrangement. Aspire to be authentic and helpful to those you reach out to.
Now, here are 5 ways to nurture your network:
1. Authentically Check-In With Your Network
Networking does not have to be forced. Follow your interests, curiosities and genuine desire to know what your former co-workers or leaders are up. Who were your mentors that you’ve lost touch with? What about those colleagues that you have mentored? Your authentic interest in maintaining a connection can be an important part of your own professional development strategy.
Then there is the other benefit: When you routinely touch base with people you truly care about, it is easier to ask for a favor or resource in the future. Your connections know that your own request is coming from a natural place of relationship and not a, “Oh, hey. Long time, no talk. I need a favor from you.”
2. Share Your Expertise Online
Self-promotion is all about getting your message out there in a way that is valuable to others. When you establish yourself as knowledgable in your field, connections (and prospective employers) will compete for a chance to speak with you. Opportunities may even come to you unsolicited.These days, we have more opportunity than ever to build visibility and credibility with the help of online tools.
Try writing an article about a compelling component of your field. Share your unique point-of-view and discuss how your experience has contributed to it. Provide value to the reader. Post your article on LinkedIn, your personal blog or website and share it on social media. By providing frequent, high-value content online (whether in the form of articles or simple status updates), you can quickly become known as a “go to” resource in your area of expertise. This expands your reach, allowing you to create a global network of contacts and potential job leads.
3. Share Opportunities With Your Network
When you find out about an opportunity that could benefit someone you know, reach out them. Perhaps they’d like you to shared their name to open the door. In doing so, your peers know that you are going to bat for them and they will see the deposits you are making in your relationship bank account. When you pour into your network, your network will more likely pour into you.
4. Seek Advice From Your Network
Ask for advice or recommendations from your network SMEs (subject matter experts). The one thing I do know for certain is that I don’t know everything. I rely heavily on my network for ten-minute conversations, quick email advice or a brief text in search of someone’s wisdom before making a decision.
Personally, I’m flattered when friends and colleagues ask for my advice or recommendations, plus it give me an opportunity to keep up with what’s going on in their lives. I suspect others feel the same way. Make time for creating a balance of seeking and sharing advice is an easy way to stay in touch with your network.
5. Make Value-Add Introductions
When you connect, ask what challenges your contact is facing or to what they’re most looking forward. What “next steps” in their career are they hoping to achieve? As you’re able, offer to make an introduction to someone in your network who has the resources or knowledge they need, or who might help accelerate their goals. You’re getting an opportunity to help both your contacts and nurture these relationships simultaneously. And, this continues to cement your status as someone on whom people can rely and go to for help. It is a win-win.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t expect others to help you if you haven’t helped them first. Your network is only powerful when the people in it know and trust you. That only happens when you show a true interest in them and their success.
CALL TO ACTION: Struggling with your job search or next steps in your career? Let’s brainstorm options and outline a strategy together. Schedule a Free 30-min Consult or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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