You’re probably sick to death of hearing about the importance of networking in developing your career, but the truth is that the real magic rarely happens while you’re swapping business cards at conferences and networking events. The real magic happens afterward – with how you nurture your network.
Building relationships takes time, and you probably don’t have time to nurture a relationship with everyone you meet. And that’s ok. The key is quality over quantity. When you attend any kind of networking event, go ahead and meet lots of people, but when the event is over, go through your stack of business cards and decide which people you would value building a relationship with. Do this, and you will be at least ten steps ahead of most of those who were at the event with you.
So how does a busy professional nurture their network? Here are three tips to help you get started!
- Connect on social media.
We live in an age where it’s never been easier to connect with people. LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with professional contacts, but don’t forget to consider other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. Once you’ve connected, you can reach out, make comments on posts, share etc. This will help to keep you top of mind with your new contacts.
Social media is also a great way to get notices about special milestones like job promotions. Pay attention to these notices and take some time to write a thoughtful message.
- Invite them to events you are attending.
Sometimes making time for your network can be challenging, so if you’re already attending a networking event or professional development seminar, why not touch base with someone in your network and invite them to join you! Even if they turn you down, they will appreciate that you invited them.
- Introduce them to people who can help them.
When you meet someone new who you would like to build a relationship with, take the time to find out what their challenges are, and if possible introduce them to someone else in your network who you think might be able to solve their problem. This strategy will help you to nurture two relationships at once!
As with any skill, learning to nurture your network takes time and practice. So, the next time you attend a networking event or are reviewing your list of contacts, go through this list and choose a method to practice. As you become more adept at nurturing your business relationships, your network will become increasingly valuable to you both professionally and personally.