Developing Your Network – One Drip At a Time
Career development is all personal. People do not hire resumes. People do not connect with texts or emails. It’s always been, and probably always will be, human contact that matters. Notice I did not say that evil word, networking. I’m not sure why, but the word networking causes anxiety with some people. Maybe it’s too stuffy or old school. Regardless of why it doesn’t resonate with some people, I have begun calling it “relationship building.” And it’s imperative that you get comfortable with it and develop a process for doing it consistently.
I will never forget the day a friend of mine was let go from his position. I went to his house after work to see how he was doing. I was sitting at his kitchen table when he told me that he didn’t have a LinkedIn account (he shunned all forms of social media), didn’t have a formal list of work contacts/e-mails etc, didn’t have his own cell phone (which was a problem because they made him turn his work phone in, along with his key fob) and the only e-mail address he had was: [email protected] To say he was panic-stricken would be an understatement. I felt for him. It was quite a cautionary tale.
To eschew relationship-building altogether is short-sided and foolish. You will be selling yourself short by living with the draw bridge up. It’s not about finding people to help you get ahead (that is smarmy), it’s about meeting people who are doing meaningful things with their lives and making yourself available to help them, to celebrate with them, to be inspired by them. The good that comes back to you will happen on its own. And if you are genuine in your passion for what others are doing it will come back to you. In spades. We were built for community and approaching life with one’s antenna up will position yourself for all kinds of miracles.
Think of relationship building as the drip on your faucet. You can fill a sink with a dripping faucet, but it will take a while. Relationship building does not happen by “turning on the faucet”. The friends you have today did not happen because you walked up to a perfect stranger and HUGGED them.
Your personal relationships took time to develop and your professional ones will too. Here are some things to think about as you consider your professional relationship building. I recommend taking a few minutes every day to focus on one of these areas…drip…drop…drip…drop.
No matter where you are in the process, start with one more connection. Don’t send a blast to all 345 people in your address book…one drip at a time. It’s quality over quantity, my friend.
On LinkedIn, you can simply think about people you worked for or with and search for them. Are there friends or even family members that you, and they, might benefit from connecting with? When you find them, always change the standard LI request to something personal. Not too long but say why you are connecting.
Hi Jack, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you and I am interested in reconnecting here on LinkedIn. Hope all is well. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Keep it simple and use your own voice, be real, be yourself.
When people connect with you on LinkedIn or Twitter (wherever you are), take a minute and send them a “thanks for connecting” reply. If you can add any other relevant comments “How is that old labrador retriever doing?” or “I look forward to learning more about what you do” it will feel more like a relationship than a simple LI connection.
- Occasionally I will look through my contacts or groups I am involved with and reach out to ask if one of them would be willing to set up a Skype or Zoom, FaceTime, or phone call to discuss a project I am working on. Recently I asked two people to brainstorm some ideas with me using Skype. It was an awesome way to reconnect with two people I had not seen in a long time and to seek some advice. People enjoy collaborating and this will make them advocates for you and what you are trying to accomplish.
- I have been inspired to continue sending out thank you cards by Jimmy Fallon who sends thank you cards every Friday. I have a reminder that pops up on my calendar on the third Saturday of every month to remind me to go through my contacts and think about who I can thank.
Look at the LI suggestions they give you (Twitter does too) and scroll through the list. Often, I find people who I “thought” I was connected with but am not. These are your “warm connections” that are easy to add.
Look through your first connections and click on their “Connections” (Go to your 1st connection and simply click on their “connections” underneath their name and Headline). Browse here and you may find people you already know but more importantly, you may find people you would like to connect with. You can:
- ask your 1st connection to introduce you
- see if you are in any similar groups. If you are, you can message them within the group
- request to connect here, but remember this is more of a “cold connect” because they don’t know you, be sure and explain why you want to connect
- e-mail them or call their office to set up an informational meeting seeking advice and getting to know them. (If you can find an email, it’s always good to start with that knowing how busy people are). After you meet with the person, you can ask to connect on LI.
So whether you have started working on your professional relationships or not, think of it as a ‘drip…drop..drip…drop’ and take a few minutes each day or whenever you are inspired and add a couple of people to your network or contact existing ones.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
Rektio Accounting knows that there is more to your business than your bottom line. Yes, we do provide services performed by credentialed accounting professionals. But we provide so much more. We come from a long line of business owners. We know what that means for you and your family.
If you are needing CFO services, but not a full-time CFO, let us help. We are passionate about the story of every business we serve. Nothing galvanizes us more than knowing: Why you do what you do? What client has made the greatest impact on you? What keeps you up at night? and What are your dreams for the future of your business, your employees, your community, and your family?
Let us take the accounting and CFO piece from you. The piece that is so very necessary, but perhaps not your strong suit. It’s our pleasure to take these things off your plate so that you can serve your clients, employees, community, and family by doing the things that you do best.
It takes a special brand of person to go out on their own and to build something from nothing. We know that. And it is our honor to partner with every client we serve.
Mari Sandifer | Director of Marketing & Business Development
Mari joined Rektio as Director of Marketing and Business Development in 2020 after spending over 25 years in corporate finance and 3 years as a business owner. She holds a BS degree in Marketing and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Her CPA license is inactive (and morbidly obese).
Connect with Mari on LinkedIn