What is your most powerful resource? Is it your money? Is it your awesome logo or trademark? No. It is your contacts. A powerful network has the power to make or break any business effort.
Effective networks are based around the concept of consistent contact, or ‘staying in touch.’ While it may be easy to build a LinkedIn account with 500 contacts or collect 1,000 business cards in your Rolodex, these relationships are meaningless unless they are nurtured. Foster your relationships by following six simple steps.
Stay in Touch with Your Contacts
- Follow up immediately with your new contacts. This shows your contact that you value them as a resource. You can follow up by sending a quick email or making a quick phone call. Thank the individual for the opportunity to meet and re-confirm any follow-ups that had been established.
- Don’t be in constant sales mode. One of the reasons why most of us hate buying cars is because from the moment we step onto the lot, we are subjected to a high-pressure pitch. Instead, look for ways to serve and build a relationship. By focusing on building a relationship, you will become a trusted advisor and friend versus a sales guy whom everyone puts their defenses on. Similarly, contacts that have depended on you in one way or another will generally be more than happy to return the favor when you need assistance.
- Use a CRM tool to keep track of birthdays and other important dates. Nothing says genuine care and friendship like a birthday card. Yes, even 50 something year old hardened business professionals have a tender spot for their own birthday. For your close contacts, consider a congratulatory phone call after big conferences, speaking engagements, anniversaries, or job changes.
- Ask questions. People like to feel appreciated, and your contacts are no different. If you are struggling with a particular decision, reach out to members of your network. You may be surprised that they will have ready references for excellent solutions if you are looking for accounting, law, or other professional advice. Asking questions will also keep the conversation with your network fresh.
- Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful tool that has the power to put your entire network in place. Use LinkedIn to recommend contacts with whom you have had a positive experience. These recommendations will build you up in the eyes of that contact.
- Consider sending out a consistent email newsletter to your contacts. This is a great way to brand yourself as an expert in a particular niche. Download your hundreds of LinkedIn contacts and put them all on your email subscription. I recommend signing up with Mailchimp, a fantastic easy-to-use email service.
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