What Hidden Opportunities Exist In Your Network?
We all have growing professional and personal networks. This is no surprise. I’d bet every single person reading this post gets at least one new LinkedIn request, Twitter follower, Facebook friend or some type of new connection on a daily basis. When did we all become so popular?
The issue with our ever expanding networks…we simply can’t manage all of these relationships. Whether you believe Dunbar’s Number of only being able to truly manage 150 relationships at a time still holds true in our digital world, there’s no way you’ll be able to effectively do this manually as your network continues to grow.
With each new connection, it’s easy to forget about important relationships that could provide a ton of value in both your personal and professional life. When’s the last time you sat down and looked at all of the connections you’ve accumulated to this point? When’s the last time you reach out to them? What have they been up to over the last 1,2,3 years?
The art of nurturing and growing the right relationships is a larger topic that I’ll be covering in the coming months. However, it’s important to understand why there’s any reason to nurture your existing relationships vs. going out and making new connections. I would never tell anyone to stop growing their network, but I challenge you to start nurturing it.
No matter what your goals are, there are people who exist in your network that can help you achieve them. You’ve already spent the time and used resources building connections with people you’ve worked with in the past, met at events, chatted with over drinks or simply only communicated with via a digital channel.
As your network continues to grow through digital first connections, it’s important to begin nurturing those relationships you actually met in person or over the phone. These should be the easiest to rekindle and are by far the most valuable. Think about it. Why would you spend so much time searching for and building new relationships when you’ve already established a network full of valuable connections.
Open up your email client and export your contacts. Go to your social network of choice and scroll through all of the connections you’ve developed to this point. Look at your resume and think back to all of those people you worked with in the past. Regardless of your current goals, I guarantee there’s someone in those lists who would be more than happy to help you out.
Start by picking out a few people from these lists who you have a fairly good relationship with and might be able to help you out directly or point you in the right direction. Find out how you can rekindle the conversation by offering to help them out first. You’ll need to do some research to find out what they value at this point in time, but be sure to do this before asking for anything in return.
Are you guilty of letting valuable relationships go to waste? Is there just too many relationships in your network to manage since the explosion of social media? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!