The Challenge of Networking: How to Invest

If you need something from somebody always give that person a way to hand it to you.” – Sue Monk Kidd

As I mentioned in my previous post, for me meeting new people is easy, it is maintaining the relationship that is a true challenge.  Once you do meet someone you are drawn to or can use for your evil purposes, you need to develop that relationship.  You need to invest to be able to realize the returns, when the time comes.

Your network can be helpful to you in many significant ways throughout your career.  So how to do you create and maintain mutually beneficial networking relationships?  How do you invest to ensure your success?  

  1. Make networking a priority, particularly staying in contact with your network.  Actually, make it a part of your overall life strategy.  Put it on your schedule.  “Permanent marker” it in.
  2. Contact people in your network on regular basis just to see how they are doing.  There is always a possibility that they are working on something super exciting that could benefit your evil purposes.
  3. Celebrate their successes.  Acknowledge their accomplishments. Contact to congratulate them, if you hear about some great new developments in their world.
  4. Update your network about your own new developments.  Contact to let them know, how you are doing.  And of course, never miss a chance to toot your own horn.
  5. Extend favors.  Always be on the lookout for ways that you can help your connections.  Even if you simply share your knowledge or your resources, it could be beneficial to someone in your network.  Offer to help.  Let people know that you are there for them, even if all they need is someone to talk to.  We all need stress relievers and “inspirators” from time to time.
  6. Thank them.  If you are anything like me, you reach out to people, when you want something from them.  Please do not forget to thank them, as ingratitude is the deadliest sin.
  7. Keep lines of communication open.  Make it easy for people to contact you.  Make it easy for people to get to know you and your intentions.  For example, this blog is one of my attempts to create connections.
  8. Respond.  Based on experience, there is nothing more crushingly disappointing than an un-answered sincere attempt to connect.
  9. Lower your expectations.  A lot of people will not respond.  A lot of people…  Plus, building relationships takes time.  There is no “beating the market” there.

Building authentic relationships requires a concrete and significant investment – investment of your time, your attention, your skills, your sanity…  However, the return on that investment has the potential to far outweigh the cost.  Be sure to take advantage of all available leverage.

Image by njaj/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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