Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I've had over 4,500 one-on-one meetings in my life — here are my best networking tips

I've had over 4,500 one-on-one meetings in my life — here are my best networking tips
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Chris HeivlyFlickr/Thos Ballantyne

The power of networking is evident. The practice of networking remains a chore and problematic to most.

I am the consummate networker and I can help you so that a little time spent every morning is paid back in spades.

In 2009, when I was still relatively new to the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina, I met with over 275 people in about 3 months.

There were four to five meetings per day, four days per week (I saved Fridays to catch up, memorialize the meetings notes and create follow ups).

This bordered on obsessive, but I had a plan, and my new business required that I know as many players in the local area as possible. Today that number sits somewhere north of 4,500 one-on-one meetings. I am a Malcolm Gladwell connector.

But I only spend about 15-30 minutes a day "managing my network."

Here are three easy steps to creating and enhancing your networking skills:

  1. Make a list of 30 people you want to stay connected to on a regular basis. Use a spreadsheet. Use a fancy CRM or Contact Manager. Use a group label in Google Contacts. I don't care — but you need to know the 30 or so people that are important to you.
  2. Every day pick two or three of those people and send them a simple email, text message or phone call. Over the course of 2-3 weeks you should have reached out to the list of 30. Add more if you have more energy. Grab that moment when a thought crosses your mind.
  3. Make that message short, personal and sincere. Ask them how they are doing. Share a funny memory of the two of you. Tell them something about your life. I don't really care what the subject is. Connect!

This may feel like a cold plan, but I can share that once you start doing a little every day, it will come naturally. People respond with you when you connect with them. We all have those moments when we think about someone we have worked with in the past. So use that moment to send them a short message.

Staying connected to your professional peers is just smart business. Last year, I reached out to some old friends to let them know what I was up to and the next thing I know I am flying back on a plane from a visit with them with a job.

Last thing ... call you mother. She counts too.

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May 2, 2017 at 10:00AM
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