What does “Working” your network mean to you? Does it mean attending events of organizations you are a part of and handing out business cards? If you are like most business professionals that is exactly what it means. Before we start going out and cultivating new relationships, which is a good thing to do, we should look at the people we know and the relationships we already have.
Do we even know who we know? Most of us know a lot of people, on average 300-500, but if we had to recall them we would only be able to recount a few of them. This is why a good contact management system is so important. Do you have one? You need a good system of entering and tracking the people that you know. It should be something that you can easily enter new contacts and import old ones. It should have search parameters so that you can easily search and identify people based on things like profession, where you know them from, and how well you know them, just to name a few. The point of it is to have a system where you can easily track and access the people you already know and the people you meet. You may already have some great people that you know that you have overlooked or forgotten.
Unfortunately most of us have not only no system, but not even a simple list of the people you know beyond maybe past clients. So if you at least have a list you are ahead of a lot of people already. What do we do with those business cards that we collect at Chamber and other events? Failure to follow up with people we meet is the number one reason why our word of mouth marketing efforts is not what it could be. So do yourself a favor and invest in a good contact management database. My recommendation would be www.relate2profit.com. It has great search parameters that are customizable so that you can readily access your contacts based on who you need to know. Just so you know, I get nothing out of you using this website. It is what I use and works well for me.
It’s a lot more work to cultivate new relationships than it is to rekindle existing ones. It also makes our efforts a lot more profitable. One of the best ways to make ourselves more profitable it to make ourselves more efficient.
Your networking efforts will be greatly enhanced once you start to have good follow up, and start to “work” your network. Until next time, happy networking!