With all the talk about networking people are still confused about what it means to actually utilize that network. Some people think networking is about the “hook up” but it’s really about cultivating a relationship. Don’t wait until you need something to reach out to your network; check in from time to time and see how people are and if you can help them. It is much easier to get help when people see you are a helpful person. Growing relationships is a key element in your success. Your network can be very supportive of you if you are supportive of them.
Here are some easy tips to growing relationships within your network.
Setup a 15 minute call
I am sure you have connections on your LinkedIn page you have never met but would love to talk to. Why not email 2 or 3 people to ask if they have 15 minutes to spare to talk about what they do and how they got into that field because it is something you are interested in. You never know what you might have in common which opens the door for potential opportunities to volunteer or add to your portfolio. I have done this often and I have been able to connect with some amazing people in various spaces and offered any assistance to help them out whether it was an introduction to someone in my network that could be more beneficial to them than me. People do not mind talking about themselves and they are more eager to help then you might think.
Send a friendly hello how are you email. This is something that is great to do as the seasons changes or holidays arrive. It can be as simple as a card saying Happy Summer I hope you are well and provide a quick update of what you are doing and ask your network for an update on them. Of course everyone will not answer but some will and a conversation can ensue. Don’t do this to everyone; spread this out over a few people per season. This way you can maintain the follow up easily and it allows you to do this without repeating people every quarter which could be tiring for some.
Share an article with someone relevant to their industry or personal interest. It shows that you remember more about a person then their job title and the company they work. A simple hey thought you might find this interesting email or social media tag is always a good way to get back in someone’s memory.
Offer an opportunity
If you blog or podcast are you asking your network for tips, advice or opinions to add into your blog? Maybe there is someone you can interview as a potential piece you are working on. It’s a great way to build exposure for your network as well as yourself. By offering that opportunity when there is something favorable for you, you will be remembered.
Cultivating relationships are about growth just as one would grow a garden it takes time and patience but the end result is a beautiful garden. Take the time to care for your network and watch it thrive. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of what you need without asking someone else what they need but please be aware of what a difference it makes when you offer something while you are asking for something