A Daily Networking Plan - I Like Routine
Every day I allocate 30 minutes uninterruptible time to strengthen my social and professional business circle.
In other words, I want to make sure that I am building (and maintaining) relationships every single day.
I focus my networking time – 50 percent on current customers showing them how much we value them and 50 percent on new business to keep our sales funnel full.
So what do I do ?
In business I am a heavy user of LinkedIn.
Go to your contacts and scroll to the bottom of your messages — these are the people you may have been connected to for months or even years.
Take five minutes and reach out to ten of them by mail every single morning.
I have a script which I keep in TextExpander –
I know we haven’t spoken to you in ages. I hope this message finds you well. How are things going at ? It would be great to catch up sometime why not drop me a line when you get a chance!”
I have well over 5000 contacts on LinkedIn even if I only want to re-engage with half of them then that’s enough contacts for a year’s worth of mails.
When you need to be more specific then get a little more proactive – think of a business or personal problem (nothing too personal!!) you want help on then compile a list of 10 or so people that you’d contact to solicit their advice on what to do next?
For example if I want to take up golf then many of my contacts list golf as one of their hobbies drop them a line ask them what golf clubs that they are members of and do they recommend their club – you never know they may ask you to join them for a game. You might be looking for a new accountant so get in touch with other business owners like you and ask them who does their books and are they any good?
Include your personal email and phone number on the message and get talking to them.
Remember – people are generally happy to help if it’s about a subject they know lots about.
Ask them what issues they are trying to address at the moment and work out how you can help.
This habit of re-engaging and rekindling old relationships is hugely important because if we’re in regular contact with people, not only do we find ourselves reconnected to our network, but we see a lot of incoming opportunities personally and professionally that we may not otherwise have.
Furthermore regular contact with your network and helping them move forward also helps get rid of that guilty feeling and hesitation we get when we need to reach out to someone and ask for advice but we haven’t spoken to them in forever.
The above actions will start to generate replies in your mailbox – best keep those newly rekindled relationships moving forward by looking at current projects and interests that have come up in conversation.
Reach out once again and ask these contacts if they’re looking to connect with others who might be able to help them. For example, if one of your contacts is interested in trying to find a venue for an event and you know the sales manager of a local hotel then offering to connect the two might make sense for both parties — but only do this with a double opt-in introduction.
First, send an email to the first party telling them that we know someone we think they should meet. For example: “Hey, John, I know you mentioned you were looking for somewhere to hold your Annual Accountants Ball would you like to be introduced to a the Sales Manager for 5* Hotel in Birmingham who might be able to help?”
Then, once we hear back from them in the affirmative, we send an email to the second party asking if they want to be introduced to a prospect.
The double-opt in introduction is crucial not only in enhancing the importance of the introduction to each party (thus making it more likely they each respond promptly and connect), but it also spares us the embarrassment of introducing people who already know one another, don’t get along for some reason, or possibly don’t even have a need to connect in the first place.
Finally – get personal.
I also try and deepen my interactions with my existing contacts, and making weaker ties into stronger ones. Strengthening ties can be as simple as congratulating someone on big news such as a new job, pet or baby, a move, getting married, etc.
The problem today is that most of these congratulations or interactions take the form of a ‘like’ or a comment on social media, which just gets lost in the noise. It’s about time social media started becoming more… social.
I check a number of feeds from LinkedIn, the local Chamber of Commerce daily newsletter, local business press and industry magazines and find some news from a weaker tie who is either within my network or someone I want to get to know.
Instead of leaving a like or a comment, I increase the level of engagement by sending a dropping them a note in the post, a book, calling them up or sending them a quick email or text – heaven forbid sometimes I even meet up with them in real life for coffee.
You know you can find 30 minutes a day for networking – who knows it could be the most profitable half an hour you spend.