Everybody loves a gift and it works the same way within the confines of networking. Sustainable networking definitely means “giving” first. Giving in this instance means sharing referrals between contacts, sharing useful and relevant information, sending “thank you” notes, birthday cards and holiday cards, congratulating someone on a reward or achievement, helping someone think through a business issue or personal matter, even just “being there” for someone else. Be proactive about giving to and helping others, be “that guy” (or gal) whom others love to hear from. “Ping” your network with information, articles and content through your various social media platforms. Here networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be very helpful. Make sure you add value to their lives by sharing useful information.
Offer to connect them to someone who they are interested in reaching, whether it be a prospective customer, a vendor, a business partner or an expert in a certain field like taxes, life insurance or the legal field.
You can start this process by asking them three simple questions:
- Is there anyone you’re trying to hook up with or looking for help from on some matter?
- Is there anyone on your target list who you’d love to meet or speak to?
- Are there any companies you’re trying to get a lead into?
These three simple questions, asked consistently, will definitely set you apart as someone who has their interest at heart and someone who truly cares about their business. Make it a habit to end every conversation with these three (or other similar) questions. This simple gesture will become part of the personal brand you communicate to the world. Try it and see the amazing turn-around within your network.
Project Your Brand in All Communications
Your personal “brand” elements are those attributes and characteristics that you want others to remember about you. Look for ways to constantly remind your network contacts of those personal branding elements through every communication tool available. Use your email signature, your voicemail, the personal notes you write or even your blog/s as tools to continuously communicate the following examples of brand elements:
- Your area or areas of professional expertise – what you do for a living captured in a unique message that is clearly understood and sets you apart.
- Your level of professionalism.
- Your positive and inspiring attitude.
- Your focus on quality.
All of the above examples can be incorporated into all your communications and will send a consistent message that paints a picture in the minds of others of who you are, what you do and how you do it.
Three Final Thoughts:
- I strongly recommend using LinkedIn as part of your networking arsenal of tools. If you’re not a member, sign up as soon as possible and begin inviting all your network contacts to join you on LinkedIn. Become a LinkedIn expert and take advantage of all the features built into this market-leading tool.
- Keep your network contact information current. LinkedIn will help with this goal. Staying in frequent contact with your network members will also help ensure you have their most up-to-date contact and employment status information.
- Build contact network development and maintenance into your weekly routine. Establish a rhythm for communicating with your contact database. Offer help and when you need it, request their assistance.