Our consultants regularly remind us that the secret weapon in their business development artillery, is a strong and powerful, active network. And while many actively focus on nurturing that network daily, you may find yourself as one of those consultants whose once-effervescent network has, without realisation, sadly become nothing more than an unanchored opportunity, adrift almost out of reach.
But have no fear – we give you 4 ways to bring back the fizz of your lurking network and turn it back into your prized Ace card.
Like any relationship that smacks of turbulence and neglect (and stick with me here), the first step to moving forward is to address the present (and the past, if it’s absolutely necessary). It may mean that you acknowledge that you’ve not spent as much time on your network as you would have liked, or it may simply be a quick check in, 2 minutes of research and a conversation opener either acknowledging a new position, involvement or article shared. People want to be acknowledged and heard – so make that your starting point.
2. Start from today, and work backwards
“But my network is too big to even attempt connecting with”. Fair enough – then start with what you have today. Your current position, your most recent role. Once you’ve conquered that, move a step backwards, and keep going until you’ve connected with people as far back in your career that you can remember. The more you connect, the more your network will also start to show you who to connect with. Whether you use LinkedIn, or Twitter Lists – whatever your tool of the trade, just getting started is half of the battle won.
3. Divide and conquer
When you’re faced with a huge group of people, whether physical or virtual, knowing where to start is often a difficult thing. So, think about what your long-term mission is and when that is clear in your mind, take a look at your network, and start to divide each contact you have, up into groups of individuals that have the potential to get you there. Think about groups such as “Decision-makers”, “Influencers”, “Internal Champions”, “Sources of information that could lead me to the decision-maker”. Or, you may want to try and different tact, and divide people up according to industry type, or relationship type – ie: “Ex co-worker”, “Co-worker and friend”, “Acquaintance”. Be careful not to make too many divisions that risk leaving you with more hassle than action. You will quickly start to see patterns emerge from which you can then form a plan of communication attack to get your network on the path to helping you reach your vision.
4. Schedule a daily socialising routine.
How often do we try to convince ourselves that “we’ll get it done sometime” – and before we know it, months have passed, and what we intended to do, now doesn’t even resonate on our To-Do list. A successfully nourished network completely depends on the amount of time that you are prepared, and actually do, to put into it. When you simply share a post of one of your contacts once, or whether you send 5 messages, regular efforts made in sharing, promoting, responding to, and interacting with your contacts and their news is all it takes to get your network development back on track. So, whether it’s a morning coffee break, or the first thing you do – make sure you stick to a plan that will remind people who you are, what you do, and how you can help to make their lives easier.
About the Author
Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.More Content by Katy Roberts