Imagine you’ve been introduced to someone professionally and after exchanges, they invite you for a coffee. BUT, before you’ve even sat down with that cup of joe they’re already into their full-on pitch and you can tell they’re not they’re for an “exchange” at all, and that their priority is to push their product, service off onto you.
This is a big turn-off, and unfortunately, it mirrors what is going on 90% of the time in all “marketing” actions on the internet these days, be it in a “personal reach-out”, a drip campaign, a boring us-centric tweet, constant repetitive linkedin updates about your company, a non-user-centered landing page, you name it… VERY few people and even fewer companies are really listening and instead there’s a lot of “pushing of my own stuff” going on. A wise networker knows that providing real value, and easing into a trusting relationship are the two key factors in developing a strong network
So, what are some powerful, simple ways to engage and strengthen your network?
1) MOST IMPORTANT: In all conversations, be genuine. Drop the superficial, drop the sell, drop the “my needs” and find out what is valuable to a specific contact in your network and help them find that. That’s what builds connections, trust and brings you both more value.
2) Keep it “them-centric”, focused on them, what you can do for an individual person. Yes, there’s definitely a repetition with #1 and we could almost repeat it a third time as it’s what is often most important for everyone out there— what you can do for them, and in turn how they will help you at a later time.
3) Sign up for Newsle to catch new articles about people in your network and drop them a short line to congratulate them. They’ll be touched that you were paying attention and took the time to reach out. Somewhat similar, you can also use rapportive for all new contacts to take a peek at what they’re up to via social media, and exchange with a possibly more personalized approach.
4) Pick up a pen and write a thank you note at least once per week. Here are 19 reasons from buzzfeed on why writing a handwritten letter is better than an email.
5) Spend 5 minutes each morning scanning your LinkedIn home page to see what’s new within your network and engage your contacts with the updates that are of particular interest to you.
6) Once a week, shoot off a quick email reach-out out to 3 interesting people that you haven’t spoken with in some time, just to catch up, and see if you can be of help. Contactually has a nice system to put your contacts into buckets where you’re reminded to reach out to them at certain intervals.
7) Flip the tables on those that “push” without listening by responding to a phone call or email from a sales rep and see how you can actually benefit each other beyond their push pitch. If you can get them to open up the dialogue, the world of possibilities can be quite large!
8) Make introductions, connecting people with a similar goal, interest, approach or that could benefit from each other’s successes. Easy approach: every day think of the people you interacted with the day before, and think of another person that can be of aid with their current endeavors.
9) Every afternoon, on twitter, linkedin, facebook, ask a question and you’ll be surprised at how reactive people can be when you create space for them to share.
10) Check out what the experts in our community have shared on how they interact with their professional network.
11) And for those that are thinking of ways they can translate this to their company’s marketing efforts, Mike Muhney, the co-founder of ACT! CRM has said “Manage your reputation, not your client“. Build trust by creating value for your clients long before asking for anything in return. We are in the age of Youtility or back to “small town rules” as two of our favorite marketing gurus would say!
And as we’re all continually learning new approaches every day,
what would you add as number 12? 🙂