A friend once asked me ‘how did I manage my personal friendships?’ She asked this as I have a large group of friends who I like to stay in touch with. I pondered the question and realised I unconsciously split my friendships into different groups and then circles. I have always played sport so I mentally split friends into gym, sailing, skiing, hockey. Then there is work – Bass, Diageo, Associate, Clients and School of Facilitation. Finally, we have School, University and Family. Once split down like this I find it manageable to think why do I want to stay in contact and how can I do this authentically and easily? Within each group I have close friends, family members, confidents, work colleagues or associates – they are in the inner circle and I talk, text, email, what’s app, like or tweet them weekly. The next circle out represents clients, friends or people I am doing something with soon, whether that is work or play.
As we move towards the outer circle I realised I have friends and clients all over the world. These are people I don’t see regularly yet when we do connect we have a ball, catch up and the friendship returns to where it was when we were in regular contact. I have caught up with these friends when I work abroad. And finally, I have contacts on the outer fringe, those I have met on my adventures, previous clients, delegates or colleagues from a past life. People who it’s good to hear from every now and then and who one day may come back into my space for a reason. This is all very well and good but how can you use this thinking with all your business contacts and even your own friends? Stop and think about how you currently manage your network of family, friends and colleagues. Do you have some unsaid rules that you manage your network by? Draw out your own circles, grid, list so you can see who is where within your business world and think about how you connect with them and the reasons why. You need a valid reason to connect with someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Know what you would like to achieve from connecting with this person. Linked-in is a great tool for re-establishing relationships. Personalise the invite, ask a question, suggest a coffee or share some information
When travelling abroad connect with people a month in advance and say you will be in town. People will tell you if they are free
Be positive and bold with your communication. State politely why you are emailing and what you are seeking. Don’t beat about the bush
Be prepared to put the effort in. Maintaining friendships and business contacts takes time and energy.
Use your time wisely. If you travel by train, plane, taxi or bus these are perfect opportunities to write a message and stay in touch.
There is no right or wrong to how you manage your network or whether it is large or small. It needs to be right for you personally or your business. This week asked me whether quality of connection is better than quantity of connections – that is another conversation me thinks………
Create your network, reach out, connect, make alliances, build relationships……… Am I hearing deep sighs from some of you or maybe some are thinking no way, not my thing or its hard enough balancing the relationships I have at present?
Whatever you are thinking I am sure you know that your net worth = your network. Most of your business will come through people you know, have worked with or people you know have recommended you. Therefore, it makes sense to think about how you ‘manage’ your network.
Today I talked with a friend in Hamburg and she commented that I have a diverse network of friends, associates and colleagues that span across the world. Another friend commented that I am good at making friends, staying in contact, building business relationships and maintaining a global network of acquaintances. This is all true and it made me wonder why I do it, how I do it and what is it I do to maintain my network. Why I do it is easy – I enjoy getting to know people, what makes them tick and I love linking them to other people I know whether it be for business or pleasure.
Five years ago I was transiting through Dubai Airport and met a man in a lift and we started chatting. He had flown in from Nairobi where he had worked on a mining site as a geologist and was now heading home to Perth. My brain instantly scanned my network for people in Perth, something made me say the name of a friend who lives there, works as an engineer and often travels to Nairobi. It transpires they know one another and work on the same project. I took his business card so that I could introduce him and my friend. Why bother you might ask? Well the benefit is that I have facilitated another link for my friend within her team, it’s good to build rapport on project teams and this chance encounter creates some common ground to kick off a conversation. During the same period, I was working in Melbourne with a client. I was working with a Home entertainment company and the client was going through a cultural shift in response to the market place changing. This company were focusing on shifting their selling behaviours and the Sales Director was focusing on their trade strategy and commercial planning process.
Click goes my brain – I have a great contact in Australia who at the time worked for CUB plus he has FMCG. Wanting to talk to my contact I dropped him a line asking whether I could introduce him to the Sales Director I was working with. ‘Yes’ said Mr CUB ‘drop us both a line’. 5 years on I know that relationship is still going strong and to quote Mr CUB ‘He is a great guy and we share a coffee regularly and keep each other sane with what’s happening in the world and different categories! ‘
Here are some simple things you can start to do to build your network:
The Celestine prophecy suggests that we notice instances of synchronicity, which is the belief that coincidences have a meaning personal to those who experience them. Become aware who comes into your field, they are there for a reason. Seek to understand why they are there.
Talk to people, its OK they don’t bite. You will know when a stranger is happy to connect with you, the clues are there – smile, open body language, a comment is made over the shared situation you are in.
. If you see or hear someone looking for support in a field that is your strength or the strength of someone you know ask whether they would like an introduction. If yes, check in with your contact and then facilitate the connection.
What’s in it for me you might be wondering?
I love linking people together especially when there is a positive consequence for all parties
I find it easy and when something is easy then I suggest it is a skill/behaviour or habit you can use and develop. You never know what will come your way because of these connections.I now realise that my belief in the law of reciprocity and an abundance mentality support my behaviours and attitude towards my network. I guess if you looked at your values it would lead you to understand how you view your network