Participants to my workshops and lectures on Networking often ask how I am able to maintain such a large network. My answer is simple: I don’t. My true belief is that if your initial interaction – and any other interactions that followed – was/were meaningful, genuine, authentic and sincere, then whenever it is that you reach out to that individual again, you will be warmly received. That said, one must always nurture his/her connections, never taking them for granted, in order to maintain strong ties.
My friend, Frank Bonura, known as “The Connector,” an Executive Recruiter and Agent, believes, “if you are not nurturing your relationships, you do not possess a relationship base; in that case you have only a network of strangers.”
His approach to maintaining relationships includes contacting 10 people from his existing relationship base each day. He calls each one; if he doesn’t reach the individual, he leaves a voice mail just to say “hello.” He always gives them permission not to return the call. He just wants them to know that they are on his mind — and to re-establish himself as a member of their relationship bases.
Maria Scipelli, to whom I introduced you in yesterday’s post, told me that she believes we all have a super power and hers is that she connects with people very easily. I can attest to her gift: She and I, though we live more than 1,600 miles apart, connected like old friends the first time we spoke which was just last week.
One point Maria and I discussed is that if a connection is authentic, then there is no need to have contact all of the time. However, this can be a significant point of tension in people’s lives. We must ensure that we truly maintain connections with others and that we are not just reaching out when we need something!
Here’s what Maria’s recommends:
- People Want to Hear from You. Your network wants to know what’s up with you! Don’t work, it is not bragging or being boastful; people will be flattered to hear from you and know what you are up to especially because it is so hard to keep track of what people are doing. And, if there is some way they can be helpful to you, they will be; be sure to tell them what you are in need of or looking for.
- Send Updates via Email. Reach out once or twice per year to your whole network with an update. You can send an email blast to many people saying something like, “It’s been a while since I heard from a lot of you; please reply with an update so I know what you are up to.”
- Tailor Your Messages. Maria acknowledged that, like many of us, she is part of multiple communities. As such, she uses a mass customization approach to her updates. One group might get an update about something that is going on with her family; another might get an update about a professional project she is working on; all recipients of the various messages might receive some kind of seasonal greeting. The point is to know your audience and share information that is relevant to them.
- Higher Touch for a Select Few. Maria went on to say, though she sends a couple of bulk messages a couple of times a year to many people, there are 10-15 people in her relationship base to whom she provides a bit higher touch. These might be mentors, potential collaborators, prospective employers, and/or anyone else warranting a more personal notification. To them, she will send a direct, personalized message.
How do you nurture your relationship base? The entire CLC community could benefit from learning about your approach and lessons learned. Please share your ideas by commenting on the blog page for this post.