darren-nolander-connectionI firmly believe connection is our currency, which is why it’s essential to remain active with your network. This, as we know, includes many touchpoints from our colleagues to friends, family, soccer parents, high school buddies, basketball teammates, running groups, book clubs, former co-workers and people we meet at industry events.

Speaking of those, we often feel like we’re doing a lot when we strike up a conversation at an event and leave with a business card. Score! Right? Well, maybe. Depends on what you do with it next. Meeting for coffee once is cool, but the value lies in the longevity of that relationship. Of every relationship.

You already have a full-time job, I know. And keeping in touch with people can be difficult. I know that, too. But it can also be necessary. Start by blocking out a small chunk of time in your day to do so. You only need 15 minutes, really. And you’re scrolling through social media, checking email and otherwise attached to your smartphone anyway, so this shouldn’t be too big of a stretch. Simply dedicate a bit of that time to interacting with people who may not be in your daily life.

Leave a meaningful “Congratulations!” comment on a Facebook post when your biology partner from back in the day mentions her daughter made the all-star softball team. Ask a neighbor about a new show he mentioned he’s binge-watching. These are not long, drawn-out bodies of text that ask for their business at the end. They are simply a way to keep in contact with your network…which keeps you, your profession and your value front and center for the recipients.

Contact is a cyclical process. This means for some, it will be a quick “Happy Birthday!” comment (Facebook is fabulous for birthdays), while for others, it will involve sending an interesting news story related to a topic you discussed. You ultimately want to get to the stage where you’re seen as a valuable contact who enhances the lives of those in your network, albeit in small ways.

The easiest ways to do this is to send birthday and anniversary wishes, condolences and congratulations and timely information that they would find relevant – particularly if it involves their most precious investments. Namely, their kids, home and any fiscal investments like stocks and retirement funds. So make the rounds on Facebook and LinkedIn (also great for birthdays and new job announcements). Set up newsfeeds on broad economic and marketplace topics, as well as on hot topics specific to your region.

And stay abreast of what’s happening with important colleagues. This may include realtor friends, people you meet at conferences, interior designers, lawyers, etc. Set up a Google Alert with their names. Trust me, this is less creepy than it sounds. The alert will simply ping you when, for example, a colleague’s company sends out a press release announcing she’s closed a record sale. Or that lawyer friend of yours was quoted in the local paper. This gives you an ideal opening to reach out, acknowledge their achievement, pat their back and reignite your conversation.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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