It is not what you know… It’s who you know.
If you’ve been following my blogs recently, you know that follow up is the key to successful networking… But, it doesn’t stop there.
Developing connections into a meaningful network takes ongoing maintenance. Like a garden, you must tend to your network to yield a bountiful harvest.
1. Plant your seeds. – Get started as soon as you get the seeds. Seeds for your garden are meant to be planted, right? You can’t just set them on a shelf and forget about them. Follow this process to get your seeds in the ground. See this blog for more detail.
2. Water, nurture and feed. – Just like the seeds that you plant in the garden, your network requires nurturing. Perhaps they are on your regular email list or you see them at an association meeting. Maybe you read or speak on items of interest to them. Share, stay in touch and give them the opportunity to know you.
3. Pull those weeds out. – Steps 1 and 2 will provide insight on the potential of a new connection. Give the relationship a chance and save removal for 6 months or so out. Weeding also works with people attempting to connect with you. If the outreach is all about them, or their product, or they add you to an email list without permission, eliminate them if you see no future value in a relationship.
4. Have patience. – Every gardener will tell you that’s the real secret to success. Some seeds take much longer to sprout, as do some relationships. You may see little or no response, but if you think there is value, maintain the relationship. Some of my best connections and referrals have come from those who give little response. But when they see the fit, you are absolutely at the top of their mind.
The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules to tending your network. Just as many gardeners have their “secret strategies” that they’re sure yield the best results, so it is with business networking:
You will find a natural rhythm after doing it for some time.
If you view it as nurturing and building relationships, networking will cease to be that uncomfortable thing that you should (or feel “forced” to) do. In its place, you’ll find a natural and easy way to connect with others and support business and career development for all parties.
What’s your take? Do you find that shifting your perspective on networking to a more productive one where you view it as a process of nurturing and building meaningful relationships gets stronger results?