You have to realize, however, that it does take time and effort to turn contacts from your Rolodex to relationships and connections that last. Following are some tips on how you can effectively connect with people, turn emerging relationships into strategic ones and leverage your network.
Establish regular contact. The key to turning casual contacts into lasting relationships is regular contact. Everyone knows this, but not all know how to do it. Here are some ideas to help you make that connect.
- Send them something of value. You have to know your audience well for this to be effective. Sending them an ebook, a weekly newsletter or a link to useful online resources will show that you've thought of them, hence strengthening your relationship.
- Pick up the phone. Don’t hesitate to give them a call every now and then. Calling them is much more personal than emails and social media PMs or DMs. You have to make sure though that you are calling them at their most convenient time. Shoot them an email or a quick text to let them know you’ll be calling them to catch up. You can also ask them beforehand as to when is the best time to contact them.
- Invite them to an event. It can be anything – a seminar, a networking event, to be a speaker or panelist on your own event, etc. Getting them involved socially and physically with your networking activities can reinforce the relationship you are trying to build with them.
- Refer. This is one of the best ways to develop and deepen your relationship with your contacts. But first you have to make sure that you know what referral they need and how they want to go about the referral.
If someone posted on Facebook that they’re having a charity event and it happens that you know an organization or someone whom you know can add value to their cause, then you can do the referring.
- Ask for advice. If you know someone who is an authority on his or her niche, you can ask them for advice. This will make them feel valued. You can follow up with them, updating them about the results of their advice. Asking people's advice will show that you are open for the ideas of the people around you.
Measure. Always keep records of the people you have meet at events. It can be in a form of an email list, a database or a rolodex. Make an effort to jot down important points such as the date you’ve meet, who made the connection, what’s been discussed, etc.
Building a strong network of connections is not rocket science, but it does take a bit of time and effort. If you apply the tips we have provided above, you’ll soon be growing your own tribe of strong network.
Michelle Christie is a business consultant based in Westchester, New York. She focuses on helping small business owners harness the power of social media to build and strengthen the relationship with their customers online. Michelle is the founder of Motivators and Creators Women's Group a professional membership organization for new and established business women interested in business networking, learning and achieving positive business results. Schedule Your Free Consultation here!