“Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority.” — Herminia Ibarra, an organizational behavior professor at London Business School.
You did the homework to meet the contact. You get excited when you make a connection that you have been yearning to make! You are thrilled! You have accomplished a task high on our networking to do list. Now what? Nothing. The contact you made is a one hit wonder. Why is that?
The fact is, it is easier to make connections than to nurture connections. Just as you are strategic about pursuit of goals, you must be strategic about pursuit of your network. How do you do that? It will take effort on your part. You must do the homework to maintain the contact.
Here are four practical systematic steps to keep in contact with your network:
1. Define the “who” and the “why”. Denote who you want to network with and for what intention or purpose. Write it down.
2. Set your schedule. Will you connect quarterly, every other month or some other frequency with the people on your “who” list. Add a calendar reminder for yourself.
3. Determine how you will connect. This can be a virtual connection, a text message connection, a social media connection, and or an in-person connection (adhering to social distancing, of course). You choose.
4. Listen to the “who” to determine your “how”. Hear what your “who” is saying. Is there a way you can help? Can you celebrate your connection’s new accomplishment? Based on what you hear, this can direct your next “how” with him/her.
While getting connected deserves a pat on the back…staying connected deserves an accolade of achievement as it takes work to keep the relationship going. Your network will die on the vine if you do not water it.