A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Adam and I were discussing an entrepreneurial speaker series that he has been coordinating every month for the at-risk teens he advocates for. He said that he was looking for some speakers for upcoming sessions and immediately, my mind sprang into action. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by many friends who work for themselves and it just made sense to reach out to them to see if they would be interested in sharing their stories. They’re not necessarily celebrities, but they’re all making significant impacts in their industries. I know I’m really terrible with buying gifts and sending cards, so with the holidays approaching, I thought, why not give the gift of connecting?
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to help keep my relationships tight with the people in my networks is to find ways to connect them with information and opportunities that are going to benefit them even if it doesn’t directly benefit me. Too often, I think we approach our relationships from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?” and only reach out to our networks when we see opportunities to help ourselves.
Looking to re-engage and resurrect that old feeling with the peeps in your network? Try these tips on for size.
1. Jazz up your Gmail contacts list with notes.
First things first. Let’s get organized! Our smart phones have become repositories for contact information. We connect with people everywhere; online, at networking events, work events, business trips, etc. It’s so simple to store anyone’s information that we meet, but do we have a system in place to remember who the heck these people are and why we wanted to connect with them in the first place?? Working in college admissions, I’m meeting people constantly, whether they are prospective students or community leaders who would make great referral sources. So what I started doing was taking advantage of the notes section in Gmail contacts. If they had their own business, indicated a particular interest in an area, had a particular need that I could supply, or if we discussed a potential collaboration, I documented it under their name. I also utilized the groups function of Gmail to organize my contacts into like categories. So when Adam mentioned needing some speakers, I was able to alert my friends who are entrepreneurs to this fantastic opportunity with a simple click.
2. Go to work for your contacts.
I know this sounds strange, but it works! A couple of weeks ago, Rachel Strella, owner and CEO of Strella Social Media, and also a friend of mine, was promoting her Twitter workshop. Not only did I sign up, but I worked diligently to recruit others to sign up for the workshop as well. I went through my contacts and targeted people that I knew had an interest in learning more about social media and would really benefit from the workshop. I was able to set up a situation where everyone wins. Rachel gets exposure to potential clients and my contacts get valuable information, which leads me to my final tip.
3. Share interesting and relevant content.
Have you ever been reading a juicy gossip article or blog post and you think, “I’ve got to share this with someone!”? It’s the same principle. If you stumble upon great content, don’t keep it to yourself, especially if you think it would be relevant to someone in your network. I frequently do this and I find that all too often, they are willing to return the favor. If you create your own content, it’s also not a bad idea to share that with them as well. Doing this kind of outreach has inadvertently led me to a number of collaborative opportunities.
So how do you keep your networks engaged?