5 tips to stop sucking at networking

This won’t tell you how to work a room, but how to develop and maintain relationships with people you just met, or have known for years.

I don’t think we put enough emphasis on the power of your individual network.

Let’s first define a personal network. It’s not the number of Twitter and Facebook followers, or readers you have on your blog. That is a network, but not the one I’m talking about.

A personal network consists of the close contacts you have made over the years of being in business and at networking events. They are the people you communicate with on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They are the people who value your business as much as you do (and vice versa).

Here’s how I’ve developed a strong personal network to help me in business and life.

1. Personal note. You would not believe how powerful a handwritten note can be. Go to a stationary store and buy personalized envelopes and cards to send to every person you meet with daily. Handwrite a note and drop it in the mail. They’ll remember you for it.

2. Use the crap out of LinkedIn. LinkedIn will be the most powerful networking tool you will use in the next couple of years. I use LinkedIn constantly to meet and get introduced to people who will strengthen my personal network.

3. Keep a networking database. You can use tools like AddressTwo, FunnelBug, or Salesforce to keep track of your leads and contacts. I use Google Apps/iMail to keep track of information I need to remember about contacts. This information could include birthdays or names of spouses. Send notes on milestones.

4. Send small gifts for achievements. I learned this from Pete Dunn. I recently met him and he presented me with a congratulatory bottle of wine for my engagement. I am not a client. I am a part of his professional network. It goes a long way when you can remember the small things in life.

5. Create a separate Facebook list for your closest contacts. I created a Facebook list to organize the people in my professional network. This means that I can keep track of their “happenings” in life and respond accordingly. Front of mind is extremely important and valuable.

What do you do to keep up with your professional network?

A version of this post originally ran on KyleLacy.com.

Topics: PR

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