We spend a heck of a lot of time seeking out the next great connection.
That is what networkers do. We are always on the lookout because we know we are just a connection or two away from a great outcome.
But what about the last connection made and the one before that?
While we are busy looking forward, are we missing the opportunity to maximize the relationships that we have already forged?
Think about it this way. If you have a network of 500, 1000, or more contacts, how many times a year do you connect with each of those contacts in a year?
If you are like most networkers, you probably don’t speak with 80+ percent of those connections even once a year.
So really your 500 is now 100 or less. And there is nothing wrong with having 100 great contacts, but wouldn’t it be great to have a more meaningful relationship with all 500?
Although it may not be possible to put depth behind all 500 relationships, there is a reason you made those connections in the first place. Isn’t it worth taking the time to explore?
Tried-and-true LinkedIn networking
If exploring your current connections for meaningful networking opportunities is something that you see as valuable, then you are not alone.
I found myself asking the same question.
Often wondering to myself, how can I make the best of the network I have built rather than just focusing on growing the network. After all, more contacts alone doesn’t mean anything. It is the depth of those relationships that give them meaning.
So I made a decision to start heeding my own advice and working on doing more with the network I have.
That is when I started an effort to “Connect 5.”
The idea behind it is to take 5 minutes a day to reach out to 5 people in my LinkedIn network to catch up and reconnect on networking opportunities. I would send them a simple message through LinkedIn to say hello, find out how they are doing, and to see if there is an opportunity to circle back.
In just 5 days of doing so, I sent out 25 notes, received 21 replies and set up about half a dozen follow up calls. Moreover, people have been genuinely happy to receive this type of inquiry as opposed to the typical sales and spam e-mails they usually receive through LinkedIn.
It was intended to be a networking site right? Well, this is networking as it was intended…
Networking is not always about getting something
A lot of people don’t network until it is time that they need something. Often that is too late, and to be honest it just isn’t really what networking is about.
Networking is about having the network when you need it by building it when you don’t. That is why I always say focus on networking consistently with a “Giving” approach rather than a “Getting” approach. When it turns out you do need help, you will find people to usually be much more responsive.
Same is true with “Connect 5.” The purpose is to truly make a point of staying in touch and learning more about the network I have.
It doesn’t actually disrupt any of my new networking activities or really any of my normal schedule at all. It is a mere 5 minutes that when done consistently allows me to stay in touch with more than a thousand people per year.
No matter what the purpose of building our network is, we all build one for a reason. If we only focus on the next connection, we are missing the whole point of networking.
So take 5, 10 or 15 minutes a day to stay in touch with those you have connected with in the past. This will make your network of today, tomorrow and into the future far more valuable than the “collection” of contacts that you have today.