Very few Presidents and CEOs will claim their company’s success is due to themselves alone. It doesn’t matter how smart they are or how massive their marketing budget, a company’s success will always be reliant on relationships and a solid network.
The secret is making sure your connections are happy to help when you need them most. It could mean calling in a favor, asking for a referral or introduction, getting your foot in the door at a company with a job opening, something to hit a deadline or goal, advice or you name it… the list could go on forever.
A mentor and friend of mine shares the story of wanting to sell tickets to her 2-day retreat seminar. She hit up her list and blasted emails out several time per month for 2 months prior to the event. Very few tickets were sold. She realized she needed to pick up the phone but when she made a few calls, she felt yucky (that’s a very technical term for extremely uncomfortable). You see, she hadn’t communicated with, or seen, her contacts in more than a year. She was selling to connections that had turned into cold leads. The majority of her list didn’t even open her emails and those who did didn’t want to buy what she was peddling nor want to refer people to her.
Will your connections remember you when you call? Will they be happy you called to ask a favor? Most importantly, will they be willing to help?
Here are 3 essentials to maintaining the strong network you’ve built so it’s there when you need it:
Being in front of your network consistently builds credibility. It also keeps you on the top of their mind so you’re remembered when they, or one of their connections, has a need for your product or service.
This means attending networking events regularly. Allowing people to see you just twice per month makes maintaining your network easy. Have you ever thought “I haven’t seen so-and-so in months. I wonder if they’re still in business?” Or worse… not to be thought of at all.
This can also mean connecting and interacting on social media, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or another platform. Hang out where your network is. Every time people see you, in person or online, you’re on the top of their mind which is a good thing.
Return phone calls, emails and other communication timely and always follow through on promises you make.
Make things easy for others, particularly if a favor is being done for you. If someone introduces you to their connection, be flexible and go to that connection. Don’t make them come to you. And definitely don’t make them rearrange their schedule to fit you in. Be as accessible, responsive and accommodating as possible and when it makes sense.
All of this lends itself well to gaining and maintaining trust, credibility and future introductions.
Helping others and adding value is a great way to maintain a solid network. This doesn’t mean giving products and services away for free, as value is diminished when you do this.
Take inventory of what you have to give that adds value. Is it an introduction to one of your connections? Maybe you have advice or expertise to share. Do you have time to lend a hand personally?
There’s no hard and fast rule for “how much to give” before asking for a favor. A Denver colleague of mine suggests giving to someone at least three times before asking for help.
By the way, the story of my friend and mentor, who hosted the 2-day retreat, did have a happy ending. She was able to fill her retreat but she had to and give away free tickets and for those tickets she sold, it was way more effort than necessary had she maintained and “cultivated” her network before approaching them to buy or _insert favor here_.
Being visible, responsive and adding value now builds your credibility, memorability and their appreciation for you, which is all necessary for your network to be thrilled to help when you finally ask for it.
Oh and by the way, people love to be acknowledged. Don’t forget to thank them for their help.
© 2016 CERTUS Professional Network / Behind The Moon, Inc. All rights reserved.
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