There’s no quick fix for relationship development. But there ARE some quick things you can do today to advance either the first step in your relationship with someone or the next step. When you think of networking and relationship building as a series of smaller actions that you can take to help weave the fabric of stronger relationships, it stops feeling so overwhelming and starts feeling like something you can build into your everyday schedule. So whether you’ve got five minutes or an hour, you can strengthen your network today:
- Call a peripheral person in your network: We have close relationships, and then we have acquaintances, within our networks. Call up someone you don’t know well, ask them if they have a few minutes to chat and get to know them a little bit better. Find out what they do, how you might be able to help them, and how you can keep them on your radar for the future. Bonus points if you arrange to make this a video chat – I know we’re all tired of Zoom and Teams, but it IS the next best thing to meeting in person these days. Bonus bonus points if you arrange for a follow-up past your first outreach.
- Follow up with a close relationship and establish next steps: With your closer relationships, reach out to someone that you should be connecting to more regularly, and establish your next steps. Should you be setting up a meeting or a meal with them (where safe)? Do you owe them an email on a proposal, or are you interested in their latest project (or vice versa)? What is something you can get on your calendar AND connect with them over today?
- Reach out to 3-5 LinkedIn connections based on their posts/articles/updates: Browse through your LinkedIn timeline and see what people are up to. If something strikes you, reach out to that person directly – but do more than comment on their update. Send them a note through LinkedIn, either congratulating them on their anniversary/achievement, asking them more about the article they wrote or looking to start a dialogue on the piece they shared. The idea is to engage in a conversation that can lead to deepening the relationship. Big bonus points if they’re in your local network and you arrange to meet in person (where safe) or at least arrange for a virtual call.
- Arrange to meet face-to-face or virtually with one person: Set up a face-to-face or virtual meeting – this can be with a close relationship that you’re looking to take the pulse of, or it can be with someone further outside your network that you’d like to better develop. Whoever it is, arrange to meet for coffee, a meal, or a virtual meeting, so that you can have that in-person connection (where safe) or connect visually.
- Set 3 calendar reminders for the next month: While you’re at it, put some plans in place for networking. It’s easy to get motivated when you have the time/energy, but that fades when other projects and work happens. So while you’re thinking about it, set up three reminders in your calendar to follow up on something related to networking – it can be any of the above ideas, or follow up to the conversations that you’ve had as a result of these. But get it on the calendar so you won’t forget.
What are some of your best networking tips? And along with networking itself, what are some of the ways that you stay motivated to keep strengthening your network when it might seem difficult to stay engaged and invested?