After I graduated, I had a 6 month gap in securing full-time employment and in that time I had the opportunity to work for a retailer. It wasn’t my dream job out of school, but to be honest, the discount was great. And I did learn some selling techniques.
However, one thing I did dread every month or so was that I had to stay back a few nights to help take inventory of the items of clothing on the floor and in the back stock. Meticulously counting the various blouses, pants, sweaters, and accessories wasn’t exactly on my list of favorite things to do.
It was important to the business and the store. We could see if we were missing anything, if there were holes in the inventory, and/or if there were things we needed to reorder. Even though, I loathed having to do this, I understood how it was vital in determining different factors going on at the story.
My dread did have a correlation to how unproductive the process actually is. Microsoft found that “For almost all retailers inventory is the single largest asset on the balance sheet. Yet despite all the improvements in technology over the past 25 years, inventory continues to be the least productive asset for most retailers.”
Taking inventory isn’t just reserved for retail stores. Practicing it on your network can be extremely valuable in building better business relationships and it can be a more productive process than the one I experienced counting blouses.
Now, I’m not suggesting you start to mindlessly count all of your contacts in your management system, instead taking inventory of your network requires some other factors that tell you if your relationships are in tiptop shape. And now, it’s probably one of the most productive things you can do in order to You won’t need to count stacks of t-shirts or write down how many pairs of pants you have in this exercise, but here are the 5 ways to take inventory of your network.
5 Ways to Take Inventory of Your Network
1. How many of your contacts are active and how many are inactive?
Looking inside your contact management system, CRM, or email client, you should start with this analysis by looking at when the contact was created or added to your network. From there, you should record that date and also your last interaction.
For example if you have a contact that that was added to your network two years ago and this last interaction was two years ago as well, would you agree that this contact is inactive? I would.
Figuring out how active you are with the contacts in your network is a telling sign as to how successful your network is now and how it will hold up in the future.
2. How many contacts do you have in your database?
This is a pure number and I hope you don’t have to count each contact individually.
One factor to note is that all of your contacts may not be located in just your CRM, they may also live on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media site. Sum al of your connection numbers, follower count, and friends to get a fuller picture in how many contacts you have exactly in your network.
3. How many contacts are coming into your network and how many are leaving?
When you are taking inventory at a retailer you have to see how much supply or product you have left. What do you need to stock up on, or what things are not selling?
For your network, looking at just how many contacts are coming into your database and how many are leaving (or inactive) is something you should be analyzing. Are you meeting enough new people to expand your network? If the rate of inactive contacts is exceeding the amount of new relationships coming in, then you may have a problem on your hands. Your network inventory will be obliterated in no time.
Take a look at your active vs. inactive contacts, look at the sum of all of your contacts across every network, and then analyze when you meet new people, encounter introductions, and are adding new contacts into your database to identify the level of your stock.
4. Can you measure the strength of your relationships?
Some of this may require some qualitative work, but determining how strong your relationships is a factor you must look at when you are taking stock of your network. Is there active communication occurring between you and your contacts? Are you connecting people to each other? Or, is it a different story where interactions between contacts is barren…and inbox zero isn’t a productive achievement for you…instead it’s a fact of life?
Ok, the last point paints a sad story, but there is always hope to reinvigorate contacts with some personable forms of communication. You’ll know the strength of your relationships and where you’ll need to pull up the plane to salvage a relationship with an important contact.
At Contactually, we’ve taken the time (and always trying to improve) to analyze every component of your relationships. From reminding you to follow up to most recently how strong your relationships truly are. With our RPA score, you can see which relationships are strong, which ones are on the fence, and which ones are weak. Your RPA score factors all of that in to then show you how well you are doing across all of your relationships, whether they are strong, weak, or need some improvement.
5. How are your contacts segmented?
We’ve gone into a multitude of ways in how you can segment your contacts. And we’ve also described the effects in segmenting your network, especially how segmenting your lists can improve all metrics across emails.
Nevertheless, when you are taking inventory of your relationships, you need to reassess how your relationships are segmented. Are these segments beneficial in doing a better job at building amazing relationships? If yes, then keep them organized that way, if not then re-organize your segments so they make more sense to your network at that point.
When the process is complete…
Now that you’ve taken your inventory, what does your network look like? Where are the gaps? Maybe you need to place some more orders to connect with more people? Understanding where you have most of your stock in your relationships and places to improve can have an overall positive effect on your network.