As I referenced in Leading the Way, we all have our own “networks” that extend beyond traditional housing contacts and the obvious colleagues we meet at industry events. These networks can take many forms. There’s high school friends, alumni club members, the guys on our baseball team, the hikers in our MeetUp group, the locals at our favorite establishments, our kids’ friends’ parents, our wife or husband’s network of family and friends, our sister-in-law’s small business clientele and our social media connections. Then, there’s our long-term service providers, including barbers, florists, bartenders, aestheticians, baristas, fitness instructors, childcare providers, coaches, etc.
When we sit down and think about it, we know a lot of people – and a lot of people know us. The strength and duration of these connections will vary, but odds are good that hundreds, if not thousands of people are at least loosely familiar with our names, occupation, and at least one or two attributes that (partially) define us.
What is my point? You don’t have to be a viral sensation, self-help book author or mayor of a medium-sized city for many people to know your name. You’re already sitting on a goldmine of connections. So, what are you going to do with all those connections?
Unless you’re a networking whiz – in which case, bravo! Feel free to move on with your day – you could probably do a better job of cultivating these connections. Many people don’t realize it, but connection is actually our currency. Our human currency, anyway. So make it a point to reach out and connect.
- – Send emails, texts or direct messages to contacts you haven’t heard from in a while. Ask how they’re doing, where life is headed and see if/how you can help.
- – Make it a point to stay in touch. Whether it’s a quick birthday greeting, asking their opinion on the deciding call of last night’s big game, inquiring if they’ll attend a relevant upcoming event or seeking advice on a vacation spot they’re familiar with, find some common ground and get to it. These messages don’t have to be long, but they should show you care, they should be appreciated and, ideally, they should motivate the receiver to respond.
- – Listen closely to what your connections are saying. Many of us simply wait for our opening and – boom! – we’re full-speed ahead with our sales pitch or recap of our own lives. Take the time to fully appreciate what the other person is saying, and do so with an empathetic ear.
- – Develop an online presence through your own website, as well as social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Invite your in-person network to connect there. This keeps your face and profession in front of people on a regular basis. It also invites them to stay in touch and interact with your life without the formal time commitments involved with a coffee catch-up or Saturday playdate. In this fast-paced world, informal, non-obligatory interactions are necessary, as our time and attention is pulled in a million different directions.
Reconnecting with our network isn’t just good for business, it’s good for the soul. Connection is our currency and I think you’ll find it’s extremely valuable if you take the time.