One of the most common networking challenges people have, myself included, is staying in touch with people. It’s not enough to just meet someone once, you want to build a relationship over time for it to be valuable for both parties. Relationships require trust and rapport, which requires consistent contact over time. It can be easy for very successful or busy people to lose touch. The below strategies will help you stay in touch and build professional relationships over time.
Many successful people keep calendars that look like games of Tetris, get way too many emails, and are overwhelmed with people asking for their time. Instead of sending another nagging email in an effort to stay in touch, send something of value to stand a part from the pack. Offer relevant and mutually beneficial introductions. Share your advice, expertise, or feedback. Share information such as events, articles or research that may be helpful. Promote your contacts’ work by sharing it with your network.
People appreciate being offered something of value. By helping people in your network, your network gets stronger, and therefore you get stronger. In addition, per the law of reciprocity, when you are helpful to others, people will feel more inclined to be helpful to you.
Send regular updates
In social life, people spend time with people that are fun, friendly, funny, etc. In business life, people will spend time with those they perceive as inspiring or excellent in their respective field. To build relationships with awesome people, you must be awesome yourself. Always make the effort to listen and understand, but when appropriate, don’t be afraid to drop a humble brag. Send regular updates about what you’re learning and accomplishing and ask your contacts to do the same.
People appreciate you thinking of them and being kept in the loop on what you’re accomplishing. Often when I send these updates, people respond back with thoughtful commentary or offering relevant introductions based on the work I described. On the receiving end of other people’s updates, I feel thankful to be thought of and get excited to see that the people in my network are doing great things.
Stay top of mind
Building rapport and trust takes time and consistent contact. You don’t want to go extended periods of time without being on someone’s mind. Ask people to join you for coffee or invite them to an event you’re attending or organizing. In-person contact is extremely important.
It can be difficult for really busy people to find time in their schedule just to chat. Always have a reason to meet. If you don’t, you can still stay in touch remotely. Ask a quick question over e-mail. People will feel complimented that you’re viewing them as an expert and will be happy to provide advice on a topic that they have expertise in and passion for.
Communicate with people on the social networks that they engage on publicly. Comment on their blogs. I keep a spreadsheet of my high priority contacts with a column that lists the date of our most recent communication. I regularly review the spreadsheet to see who I need to add value to or otherwise check in with. I also use Followup.cc to set email reminders to re-connect.
Maintain a strong online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter, or other relevant profiles to your industry. Publish a blog to publicly promote your expertise and provide updates on your learnings and accomplishments to your network. Make it easy for people to see you and know what you’re doing.
By maintaining a blog, Twitter feed, and LinkedIn page, people often tell me that they remember me, find it easy to stay up to date on what I’m doing, get to know me better, and get value from the content I product.
Staying in touch with people is one of the challenges of building a strong professional network. When you’re meeting a lot of people and tending to other responsibilities, it can be easy to forget about people, or not be sure how to re-connect. The above strategies will help you stay in touch and build relationships with highly successful people.
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