Have you noticed the term COMMUNITY is so popular right now? People want to grow the groups that they know and connect with. Community is more than just amassing names in a database. Community has the connotation that you belong, you know one another, and you’re active in the relationship.
Networking has evolved from the old days of elevator speeches and thrusting business cards into the hands of helpless bystanders to thoughtful connections (1) in person, (2) in print and (3) online. We’ll explore these 3 areas with some simple ways to build in networking to your every day habits.
Here are some easy things you can do, right now, to build your community, to expand your network and to make more meaningful relationships today…
STACKS OF BUSINESS CARDS:
- Add the contact info from a stack of business cards to your address book (CRM).
- Send invites to those people to stay connected with you on your Social Networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These sites act as a secondary database, after your Address book.
- TIP: It never gets easier to do this kind of data entry, so I recommend doing this as soon as you get home from the event. I know it seems crazy and you might be tired, but momentum is still there and the memory of each person is still fresh. That means the other person is more likely to remember you too!
- Reach out and invite one new person to coffee, lunch, or after-work drinks per week.
ADD RECENT CALLS to YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Most smart phones allow you to add recent calls and contact info by selecting “Add to your Address Book.” The next time that person calls, you won’t just see their phone number, you’ll see their NAME. You’ll be more ready for the call.
ADVANCED TIP: If this is someone you anticipate working with for a long time, add his or her photo to the Address book profile! Photos are easier than ever to connect to your Address book. Most social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook have personal profile photos that you can “right click” and select “Save Image As” and save the photo with that person’s name.
As you go through magazines and rip out articles that individuals in your network would appreciate. This shows you’re paying attention to them, the real person. And that you listen to what they’re interested in. Stick a post-it note on the article with a quick note saying, “Hi (name), I thought you’d really enjoy this article. Best wishes, (your name)” Yes, it can be that short and sweet.
SEND OUT REAL CARDS:
Keep a stack of birthday, Thank You and blank cards at your desk. Put Forever Stamps and your return address stickers on them NOW, so they’re ready to go, as soon as you are. Facebook and other Social Media sites are a great reference for friends, clients and colleagues’ birthdays. When was the last time you received a hand-written card? It’s rare these days, and that’s what makes it special.
Networking is about giving and receiving… In your online profiles, make sure you make a habit of giving recommendations and mention other professionals that you admire in your network. If you have an account on LinkedIn, take 15 minutes a week to give and receive:
- Write one thoughtful LinkedIn Recommendation for someone you admire in your network. Think of it as a Thank You note for someone who goes above and beyond in their business for you.
- Send 5 Requests to people you’ve met in the last week. Do this by clicking: “Add Jodi to your network” text in the right hand column. I always add my own personal note, letting them know why I’d like to connect to them, and a little reminder of how we met, if it’s not immediately apparent.
Work on TEMPLATES:
Write a template: “Let’s stay connected note” that you can customize for each person. Whenever I send out an invitation to connect to my network, I ALWAYS include a personalized note. I use a tool called TextExpander (for Mac), that I use to make my messages more complete. ActiveWords (for PC’s) is another great tool to make these types of shortcut templates. Once you experience how fast and easy it is, you’ll use it to send MORE people MORE complete communications MORE often.
Clean up your Signature line! You know that space under your name with your mailing address and contact info. Maybe even the legal-ease disclaimer or “Think green before you print!” This is your chance to:
- Make it easy for people to contact you. Let them know what your communication preference is!
- Make it easy for people to do business with you. What page on your website do you REALLY want people to visit?
PS: Did you know that after the Subject line, the PS message is the most commonly read part of an email? So, make it a good one!
Networking is a skill that you can practice and build upon. You don’t need to do all of these tips all at once. Build them into your regular habits, and you’ll see the results of your community growing stronger and larger too.