It’s easy to get busy with other things and realize you’ve fallen out of touch with important colleagues. At the same time, it’s natural for your contacts to be less than enthusiastic if they only hear from you when you’re asking for a favor.
Regular communication will strengthen your relationships, and there are steps you can take if you’ve been somewhat inattentive in the past. Try these tips for heating up your network.
TIPS FOR WARMING UP A COLD NETWORK:
Start out by acknowledging your lapse, especially if you’ve neglected to return phone calls. If someone is gracious enough to forgive, ensure you’re considerate in the future.
2. START CLOSE TO HOME.
You’re surrounded by opportunities to practice your networking skills and make new contacts. Look for leads among those you interact with daily, including coworkers or other job seekers.
3. DO SOME RESEARCH.
Find out whether someone has changed jobs or gotten married since you last spoke. Check LinkedIn or mutual friends. You’ll be more prepared for your first conversation.
4. MEET FACE TO FACE.
Digital communications are convenient but personal interactions make a deeper impression. Circulate offline as much as possible. Attend industry events and invite others out for coffee or lunch.
5. STAY INFORMED.
Your conversation will be more interesting if you know what’s happening in your field and the wider world. Read books, watch movies, and engage in deep conversations.
6. GIVE MORE.
You’ve probably heard that successful networking is about being generous. You can help others by sending articles, making referrals, or just sharing an encouraging word.
TIPS FOR PREVENTING YOUR NETWORK FROM GROWING COLD:
1. BE SELECTIVE.
Quality matters more than quantity. You’re more likely to cultivate authentic relationships if you prioritize. Figure out who your key contacts are and devote most of your time and energy to them.
2. CREATE A SYSTEM.
Networking is also easier when you’re organized. That might mean scanning business cards or creating a whole database.
3. BLOCK OUT TIME.
Put networking on your daily or weekly calendar. You could set aside a half hour in the morning to make phone calls or set a goal for eating lunch with one of your contacts at least once a week
4. INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY.
Speaking, teaching, and publishing on topics related to your career will also give you opportunities to make new contacts and refresh old ones. Check with your local community college or contact the organizers for an upcoming industry event.
5. OFFER CONGRATULATIONS.
Most of your contacts will be delighted to hear from you if you express a genuine interest in their lives and appreciation for their achievements. Relay your good wishes when you hear someone has been promoted or landed a major account.
6. SEND HOLIDAY GREETINGS.
Thanksgiving or National Spaghetti Day can be a fitting occasion for reaching out to your colleagues. Try personalizing your message for your key contacts and creating a more general version you can use with contacts who you interact with less frequently.
7. TAKE TIME OFF.
Scheduling periodic breaks from networking may help you to stay motivated and balanced. You may want to forget about business when you’re with your family or faith community.
An effective network is more than a collection of business cards. Develop closer professional relationships and advance your career by keeping in touch with your contacts and taking the initiative to reach out if you’ve let a valuable connection grow cold.