We build a network of professional relationships for several reasons that include gaining introductions to others, getting connected to a company or industry and of course prospecting. Most often what occurs is that we neglect a network of people that once we considered great people to know, so now is a great time to drive opportunities by reconnecting with your network.
The goal of inviting someone to your network isn’t to collect names like an old rolodex – it is to build relationships!
Relationships lead to conversations and conversations lead to opportunities. It is much easier to reach back out to someone in your network that you once had a conversation with then to start over.
Tips For Reaching Out to the Network You Already Have
First, I want to say if you don’t have goals for your network, you should. It stops the randomness of your activities and actually saves you time and for all of you who complain about time being a factor in developing your network, then knowing who are your key-connections will save you time.
“Your most valuable asset should be your portfolio of relationships” – David Nour
Who are the relationships that will be most impactful to your success? Write it down, track it
Get in the Habit of Continually Building and Nurturing your Network
Create Relationship Capital by helping others in your network (and if you are not familiar with the term social capital, social capital is all about improving the way we interact, collaborate, and influence.
Make introductions via email or via LinkedIn without expectation. Find small ways that doesn’t take a lot of time
Add Value Authentically – First, don’t ask how you can add value, rather leverage the skills you have and just do it!
- What are you good at that adds value to others?
- Ask, who do I know that I could add value in making an introduction
- Purchase the person program you want to know – let them know what you found of most value
Here are ways to add value to your most important relationships:
- Pick-up the phone – yes, it’s easy to shoot off that email, but it takes thoughtful effort to call
- Message your connections on LinkedIn to let them know you are thinking about them – Remember we want out best connections to know we care and that we are in this together and how can you be of service and visa versa? (on LinkedIn mobile you can leave a 30-second voice message)
- Post & share relevant information – and today especially being sensitive to how Covid19 has affected others
- Meet someone new – but as mentioned earlier – send a personal invitation on LinkedIn or email. I was on a group call this morning and someone invited me to connect that saw me in the meeting and sent a personal note.
- Send out a card – There are services like ‘Send Out Cards” that you can access from your computer – there has never been a better time to show up in someone’s mail box
Networking Research Shows Where Your Biggest Opportunities Come From
I want to share the research behind networks because I think this will help you see the value in your efforts. Look at the people in your network in these three buckets:
- STRONG TIES: people who share the same contacts, those you know well
- WEAK TIES: tend to operate in different circles & offer different opportunities
- DORMANT TIES: those you haven’t connected within 2-3 years, but were once strong
Research shows your biggest opportunities come from weak & dormant ties according to David Burkus, author of ‘Friend of a Friend.’
So I don’t know about you, but I get LinkedIn invitations from people all the time that say, I see we know all the same people – let’s connect! But research says that isn’t going to be your best source of opportunities. You all know the same people and hear the same stuff from the same people!
In my workshops and courses, I teach people to identify the key people in their networks and that these are the people you want to build deeper more meaningful relationships with. Start with your dormant ties.
- I encourage you to make a list of 10 dormant ties and rank them based their impact to your success
- Reach out to these 10 people and reconnect without an expectation. Just say you would like to reconnect, perhaps ask for advice and see where the conversation goes, make it more free flowing. But DO NOT on the first outreach make it transactional, your goal is to reconnect.
So your goal here is to build deeper relationships & make it intentional and a priority
- add calls to your calendar on a regular basis
- ask what they are struggling within business & life
- always be up to date with your top advocates
Be Interested and Interesting
In order to develop a network of valued connections that meet your success goals, you want to be interested in what others have to say which seems obvious until you think about all those people who have sent you a LinkedIn request and they express no personal interest in you at all. The second part, is you want to be interesting enough that people want to engage with you. Here are some tips to help you in this journey:
- Know What makes you interesting to others
- Be a good listener – 20% talking/ 80% listening
- Ask good questions – learn how to be a good interviewer
- Cultivate curiosity
Who’s interesting that you’ve met in the past 6 months? Reach back out & have a conversation.
By putting in some effort to reconnect with the network you already have and without expectation, you may be pleasantly surprised as to where the conversation leads. I believe you just need to be open, be a good listener and ask good questions. Remember too, people like to talk about themselves, so when you focus on them and not you – that’s when the conversation flows.