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Are Your Contacts Napping? 3 Tips to Engage Your Network

When talking about how important it is to engage your network of contacts, it has been said, “Networking is not about collecting contacts. It’s about planting relationships.”

Just minutes ago, the call came. “Valerie, you’ve been referred by xxxx.” It turns out xxxx is a client from 10 years ago. That referral came simply because of a sincere desire to stay in touch (digitally on this one) with those people I call “brand ambassadors.” That means people who know me and value our friendship or business relationship.

Want to engage your network? It starts with CARING. Wanting to stay connected. Reaching out by phone, email or through social media. The point is to reach out or there is no connection.

Now, on to the how…

3 Tips to Engage Your Network

1. Know the individuals and what’s important to them

If you know what someone likes, finds humorous or enjoys doing – then it’s easier to send messages.

Example: Each time you meet someone you intend to connect with again, put them in a category with a note to the side of what they might value from you. These could be:

  • Organizational or group members
  • Business or clients/customers
  • Friends/relatives
  • Etc.

2. Be consistent

Focus is a mindset. Taking 9 minutes a day helps. According to research, if you take just 9 minutes a day and focus on a goal – you’ll finish it, according to my friend and colleague William Arruda. It works!

Example: Take 9 minutes to send something to someone. That’s easy. You can do that. Have birthday cards already addressed and in a folder per month. Put a note in your calendar to remind yourself to send an article to someone. Pick a commitment, and do it – one step at a time. The return on your time investment will be bountiful. When you give, give, give (authentically) – you’ll get, get, get – as Zig Ziglar used to say.

3. Make it personal

What might be things YOU would appreciate? For me it’s recipes. Cooking is my passion and stress reliever. So, if you sent me a recipe, I’d get excited! (DO send one?) When I work with a client who also shares my passion, I make note and send THEM a recipe. What about pets? That’s a huge connector, it seems. My daughter went to work out of college at one of the big four financial services firms. Some of the colleagues told her to “be cautious when you have to work with so and so. He’s a bear.” Hmmm, not so. As she walked through the halls being introduced to the partners of the firm, she noticed he had a picture of the family’s golden retriever. That was it! She also had a golden, mentioned it to the partner when introduced and a long conversation ensued about the loving characteristics of the breed. A long mentorship resulted.

What other things could you send? Start keeping articles or research. It’s a high leverage point for having information that matters – to someone else!

I’d love to hear if this is relevant to you. Send me an action you’ve taken and I’ll send you a fun quiz from our collection of ten years writing for Southwest Airlines Magazine. Send to: valerie@valerieandcompany.com

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