3 Fundamentals of Modern Networking for Every Single Professional
In a world where new communication channels are being created on a daily basis, it’s becoming a challenge to keep up with even the basics of networking.
Sometimes you need to take a step back and evaluate how you’re currently keeping track of existing relationships so that you can spend your time on the actual “relationship” without getting too caught up in all of the different tools that are actually taking away from the main human interaction.
Now this post isn’t going to tell you which tools to use, but it will highlight a few critical aspects that are essential to growing stronger relationships with the right contacts. Before you decide to purchase any new shiny tools, make sure you understand the fundamentals of modern networking first.
Let’s get started. Here are 3 fundamentals of modern networking that every single professional can do to grow a stronger network. If you can learn to create a habit around the following, I guarantee you will be on your way to creating meaningful relationships based on trust while being recognized as a valuable member of any network.
Always Follow Up, First
We’re all known to forget follow ups. How can we stay on top of everything? You’ve got emails flowing in, social notifications dinging on your phone and meeting reminders popping up on your computer screen throughout the day. It’s chaos.
Important follow ups can get lost in the increasingly cluttered environment we work and live in every day. If you’re not already doing so, following up to every important interaction is an incredibly easy way to maintain a relationship.
Your follow up might be as simple as saying “thank you for taking the time to chat, I’ll look forward to our next discussion”. Just like you, the people you meet with are incredibly busy, so make an effort to always be the first to follow up and I guarantee your relationships will respect you for it.
If you want to go one step further, follow up with next steps and pick a general date in the future that you will re-connect. It might be next week, next month or even next year, but the fact that you put it in your calendar now will be the difference in keeping or losing touch with that relationship. Easy enough, right?
Be a Filter of Insight
There’s a distinct correlation of business success (or any profession) with how closely you follow the news. It gives you something to talk about, you’ll look intelligent among your peers and most likely have strongly developed opinions within your area of expertise.
Having this ability makes growing new relationships extremely easy – it gives you a reason to spark a conversation with someone you’ve never spoke to before. Better yet, it makes nurturing your existing relationships a breeze. If you already know a few topics of interest for the contacts in your network, you have an open door to keep those connections strong.
Follow the most reputable news sources in your area of expertise while also following some off-topic content that might be interesting to your network and a nice change from the regular stream of content. Pick out a few pieces of content each week and share it directly with contacts you think would find it useful. Make sure you’re writing unique messages, this shouldn’t be automated!
Doesn’t that sound simple? Sure it might take a little more time to craft personal messages but giving back to your network should be part of your daily routine. Start off slowly, build your cadence and watch as your network creates new opportunities that you would have never been exposed to otherwise.
Give First, Seek Help Second
If you look at business leaders, no matter where they’re from, you’ll notice one common trait – they know the importance of giving before ever asking for anything in return. There’s a ton of famous quotes from leaders around the world that all follow that same basic principle because it holds true in every profession.
The great part about giving to your network is that it both feels great to help someone else out and they’ll usually return the favour sooner than you think. There’s been countless occasions where I’ve made a new connection at an event or online by sharing my thoughts on a topic that I’m passionate about which created a new opportunity immediately after.
The sooner you start giving back to your network, the sooner it will return the favour. Think about how powerful your network would be if you were to have started these modern networking efforts 1, 3 or even 5 years ago. It’s important to start nurturing your network as soon as possible and maintain/develop those efforts over time.
You should certainly evaluate your long term career goals in order to grow the right relationships within your network. It would be great to help everyone out, but you’ll want to start with a focus on your existing relationships that have a strong influence already – I’ll cover targeting the right connections in another post.
Once you’ve done a great job of nurturing those relationships, start to open up your network by reaching out to people with different skills, interests and passions outside of your close relationships – I’m a strong believer that the biggest opportunities come from those connections.
If you’re already an expert at modern networking, you probably already do most of these fundamentals, but we can always improve by being more effective or efficient. Once this becomes a habitual part of your daily routine, you’ll find it easier to connect with people both in the professional world and your personal life
It’s time to start growing the right relationships and building a stronger network. Take the time now to see which areas you need to improve immediately and focus on those first. Write down a list with the least developed skills at the top, so you can strengthen your areas of weakness first.
Am I missing a modern networking fundamental here? Be sure to let me know in the comments, there’s always something to be learned from one another and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!