Staying in touch with new contacts is by far one of the biggest challenges I hear from would-be networkers. There are two key hurdles: 1) time and 2) strategy. Let’s address both!
- Remove something. Since no one has figured out how to add hours to the day, the only other option is removing something that already consumes your allotted 24 hours (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg has 30 gray t-shirts so he can save 5 minutes each day deciding what to wear.)
- Eliminate time wasters. Browsing social media, unnecessary meetings, and hitting snooze are three that are common. If you audit your day, you’ll likely find a few more (like constantly checking email).
- Schedule it. We tend to follow our calendars, so add 30 minutes of “networking” to each weekday. You may be amazed at how much time you “find” to network.
- Make it a habit. The brain thrives on habits because they’re literally “mindless,” taking minimal effort. Pair your networking strategy with an established habit (e.g., your commute on the train) and watch it become a regular part of your routine.
- Find the nugget. Every interaction is an opportunity to learn. Find a shared goal, contact, or interest and use seemingly random conversations to your benefit and the benefit of others.
- Engage technology. Linked In does the heavy lifting for you when it comes to reminders about work anniversaries, birthdays, promotions and other important events. Make it your personal assistant to celebrating your contacts’ wins. Simply browse your “notifications” daily.
- Attend events. If you know a group of your contacts will be congregating at a conference, retirement party or other social activity, make it a point to go. A few minutes of face time can go a long way in deepening a connection.
- Give thanks. We accomplish nothing alone. When you have a “win,” reach out to those who’ve helped you to achieve it, no matter how small their role. Gratitude makes the world go round!
- Be a super connector. When you connect two of your contacts, you become a super connector – the common link between the two connections. This keeps you top of mind in both circles.
- Contribute on social media. Write a blog, post a comment, share someone’s work, offer a tip, quote or idea. With technology, we’re all able to be “thought leaders” now. Free, relevant content keeps you front and center with your network.