pillars of networking

Nurturing connections is an essential aspect of building and amplifying your professional network. As you continue to build and expand your professional network, staying in touch with the connections you’ve already made is crucial. Consistent communication with your connections keeps you updated on their endeavors and potential opportunities and fortifies these relationships for prospective collaborations. To nurture these connections effectively, it’s crucial to establish a regular check-in schedule, which could be monthly, quarterly, or yearly, but regularity holds the key.

In this lesson, we will share valuable insights on devising an effective check-in schedule that aids in nurturing connections, thereby strengthening your network.

Identifying Multiple Networking Touchpoints

Success in networking, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn, is found in leveraging multiple touchpoints to build and foster connections. 

Start by identifying the right contacts in your desired field who could provide valuable insight. This could be someone in a role or team you aspire to or a potential hiring manager working at a company you’re interested in. 

Research the contact’s background, their work, and their company. This will allow you to tailor your message and show them that you’re genuinely interested and have taken the initiative to learn about their work.

Establishing a strong professional connection often begins with a well-crafted initial connection request that is personalized and conveys genuine interest in the prospect’s work.

  • Script: Hi [Name], I hope this message finds you well! I came across your profile and was inspired by your experience in [industry/role]. It’s not every day I stumble upon someone who’s achieved so much in an area I’m passionate about exploring. It’d be awesome if we connect here on LinkedIn and share ideas or experiences down the line. No worries if you’re swamped. I know how these things go! Thanks for considering my request. Take care, [Your name] 
  • Script: Hey [Name], I hope you’re doing well! I stumbled upon your profile and was really intrigued by your work in [industry/role]. As someone who’s actively exploring this field, it’d be great to hear your insights firsthand. Would you be open to connecting here on LinkedIn? No pressure at all! Thanks for considering. Cheers, [Your name]
  • Script: Hi [Name], I recently came across your profile on [platform] and was impressed by your experience in [industry/role]. I’m exploring opportunities in this field and would love to learn more from someone with your expertise. Would you be open to connecting?

Engagement forms the next touchpoint. By actively engaging with a connection’s online content, you show that your interest extends beyond just having them in your network. This could be through liking, sharing, or commenting on their posts to show genuine interest in their perspective. This keeps you on their radar and demonstrates your interest in their work.

Acknowledging their professional journey forms another crucial touchpoint. Complimenting them on their achievements, career progression, or their current work is a way to show respect and admiration for their professional journey.

Asking for advice forms another touchpoint. Most professionals appreciate being valued for their expertise and knowledge. By asking for advice, you gain potentially valuable insights and show respect for their experience and knowledge.

The final touchpoint before asking for an actual meeting or informational interview is following up on results. If a connection has shared advice or insights with you, take the time to follow up and share your progress or results. This shows that you’ve valued and utilized their advice, and it keeps you on their radar.

Once you’ve built a rapport through online interactions, consider asking for a call or meeting. This could be a natural progression from an online relationship to a more personal connection, potentially leading to a beneficial professional relationship.

  • Script: “Hi [Name], I hope this message finds you well. Over the past couple of weeks/months, I’ve found our conversations and your insights extremely valuable. Your knowledge and perspective have been incredibly enlightening and significantly influenced my career approach. Would you be open to a phone call or a virtual coffee at your convenience? I believe a more in-depth conversation could benefit both of us. Please let me know when you might be available. Thank you for considering my request. Best, [Your name]”
  • Casual Script: “Hey [Name], I hope everything’s going great with you. I’ve really enjoyed our chats and learned a lot from your experiences. If you’re up for it and it fits into your schedule, maybe we could have a quick call or virtual coffee? There is no pressure at all – just thought it could be a cool opportunity to chat more about our shared interests. Let me know what you think! Cheers, [Your name]”

If you are still waiting to hear back within a week, send a polite follow-up message. Always respect their time and decision if they cannot accommodate your request.

Creating a Networking Schedule for Nurturing Connections

Effective networking hinges on strategic planning and execution. One key strategy is setting clear goals. Understand what you hope to achieve from networking – gaining industry insights, seeking potential partnerships, or exploring job opportunities. Having a clear aim helps guide your conversations and interactions, making them purposeful and productive. 

The purpose of a check-in schedule is to create a structured plan for consistently staying in touch with the existing network that will help you maintain and strengthen relationships, keep up-to-date on industry trends, and potentially uncover new opportunities. 

Tailoring your communication to the individual you’re engaging with is critical. This implies understanding the person’s background, interests, and professional field. A personalized approach makes your interactions more genuine and increases the likelihood of developing a meaningful connection. 

Before creating the schedule, it’s essential to identify your goals and objectives for networking. Are you looking to expand your network, build relationships with potential mentors or collaborators, or stay connected with former colleagues? Knowing your purpose will help you tailor your check-in schedule accordingly.

Setting Up A Monthly Schedule

A monthly schedule allows you to regularly check in with your network without overwhelming them. This can include emailing, setting up a coffee or lunch meeting, or simply sending a quick message on social media. Make sure to vary your approach and keep it personalized.

Focus on five people closest to you, such as family members, close friends, or colleagues in your network, and have a quick catch-up conversation. Every month, they should be checked in with a quick text or call to catch up and see how they’re doing.  Ask about current projects, any challenges they are facing, and if there is anything you can assist with.

  • Script: “Hello [Name], I trust you’re keeping well. Just checking in to see how things are going and if anything new or interesting is happening in your world. Let’s catch up soon if possible. Regards, [Your Name]”

Why it’s important to set a monthly schedule:

  • Regularly engaging with your connections will keep relationships active and prevent them from fading due to neglect. 
  • Fosters an environment of continuous knowledge sharing and learning as you stay updated on industry trends and news through these interactions. 
  • Provides an opportunity to offer assistance and support, thereby strengthening your relationships. 
  • Monthly check-in helps you to stay on top of mind for your connections, increasing the likelihood they will think of you when opportunities arise.

Implementing A Quarterly Schedule

A quarterly schedule is a good balance between staying in touch and not being too frequent. This includes checking in for a catch-up call, attending networking events, or sending a handwritten note to show appreciation. During these check-ins, keep track of any necessary updates or milestones from your network contacts.

These could be people you have regular contact with but less frequent than your monthly contacts. Set up a lunch or coffee meeting with 3-5 connections in your network, including acquaintances, former colleagues, or classmates. This allows for a more in-depth conversation and a chance to discuss potential collaborations or partnerships. You can contact them once every few months through email or social media, sharing any updates and asking about their status.

  • Script: “Hi [Name], It’s been a while since we last touched base. I hope you’re doing well and achieving all the goals you set out for this quarter. I’d love to catch up and hear about your recent experiences and updates if your schedule allows. Best, [Your Name]”

Why implementing a quarterly check-in is important:

  • Ensures you stay relevant and in the minds of key contacts without appearing overly intrusive. 
  • Provides opportunities to keep abreast of industry trends and developments by gaining insight from different perspectives. 
  • Allows you to systematically share your progress and achievements, reinforcing your professional image and credibility. 
  • Acts as a platform to explore potential collaborations, partnerships, or job opportunities. 

Utilizing An Annual Schedule

An annual schedule is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with those in your network who may have slipped off your radar. This can include sending a holiday card, meeting at a yearly industry conference, or even setting up a virtual coffee catch-up. Use this time to update each other on significant changes and continue building on the relationship.

Old friends, mentors, or former clients may not be in regular contact with you, but you still want to maintain a connection with them. You can send a handwritten note or a personalized email to 5-10 important contacts, a yearly email, or a message during special occasions, like their birthday or work anniversary, to stay in touch and keep the relationship alive. Expressing your gratitude for their support and updating them on your achievements. This helps maintain the relationship and can lead to future opportunities.

  • Script: “Dear [Name], As another year ends, I wanted to reach out and see how the past year has been for you. I hope it’s been filled with success and learning. Let’s find some time to reconnect and share our yearly experiences. Warm regards, [Your Name]”  Further, I would also like to extend my gratitude for your support and guidance throughout the year. Your insights and advice have been invaluable, and I am grateful for our connection. Here’s to another successful year ahead! Best, [Your Name]”

Importance of Segmenting Your Network

Segment the people on this list based on their level of closeness to you and the frequency with which you have contacted them in the past year to help you prioritize who to reach out to and how often.  This will help you balance cultivating new relationships and nurturing existing ones. It’s also important to consider the industry or field they are in and their potential for future collaborations.

Segmenting your network based on closeness, industry, or mutual interests can help you tailor your communication and stay organized, allowing you to prioritize which contacts you want to reach out to more frequently and who may only need an occasional check-in. For acquaintances, sending yearly updates or holiday greetings may be enough to keep the relationship going. Reaching out more frequently and having meaningful conversations is important for closer connections like mentors, former colleagues, or potential clients.

Building a Strong Network

Face-to-face networking events hold considerable value in establishing and nurturing professional relationships. They provide a unique opportunity to create a more personal connection, helping to build trust and understanding. These events enable real-time interaction and immediate feedback, fostering a deeper level of engagement that is hard to achieve through online communication. Furthermore, they often lead to spontaneous yet significant discussions that can help fortify the professional bond. The pure essence and energy of in-person interaction are irreplaceable, making these events an essential part of any networking strategy.

In addition to face-to-face networking events, there are other ways to build a strong professional network. Social media platforms like LinkedIn can help expand your reach and connect with individuals in your industry or related fields. Joining online communities and groups can also provide opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals and stay updated on industry trends.

Another important aspect of building a strong network is actively seeking mentorship opportunities. Having a mentor can provide valuable guidance and support and open doors to new connections and opportunities. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you admire or respect in your field and ask for their

Maintaining Your Brand for Effective Networking

Your personal brand reflects you as a professional and can significantly influence your networking endeavors. This brand isn’t just about your online presence, social media profiles, and professional websites. It also extends to your offline persona, encompassing your communication style, personal demeanor, and attire. A strong personal brand can help you establish credibility, build trust, and foster meaningful relationships in your professional network. It’s key to ensure that your personal brand, whether online or offline, conveys a unified and authentic impression of your professional identity. This might mean maintaining a consistent tone in your posts, sharing relevant industry content, or engaging in meaningful dialogues on digital platforms. 

Offline, it could reflect your participation in industry events, interpersonal interactions, and overall comportment. Think of your brand as a dynamic and evolving facet of your professional life that should be nurtured and developed carefully.

Social media has become a critical tool for online networking. Platforms like LinkedIn allow you to build an online presence, showcase your skills and achievements, and connect with professionals in your industry or field of interest. It’s essential to keep your profile up-to-date and engage with others in your network through posts, comments, and messages. Social media can also be a powerful tool for research, allowing you to learn more about potential connections or industry trends. However, it’s crucial to maintain a professional online presence and be mindful of what you share on social media, as it can impact your professional reputation.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Following up after initial interactions cannot be overstated. A simple email or message expressing gratitude for the conversation and interest in staying in touch goes a long way in cementing the relationship. Make sure to follow through on any promises made to your contacts, whether sending them an article or making an introduction. Remember to follow up after initial meetings or events, as this shows your interest in maintaining the relationship. This shows that you value the connection and are committed to nurturing it. 

Following up is also an opportunity to re-engage with people who may have fallen out of touch. By reaching out, you can reignite the connection and potentially open up new opportunities for collaboration or support.

Networking is an ongoing process, and segmenting your network can help you stay mindful of who you want to stay connected with. It is not about reaching out when you need something but maintaining genuine relationships and supporting others in your network. Following this check-in schedule can strengthen your connections and build a strong support system for your personal and professional growth.  So, make it a priority to regularly check in with your existing network and see how you can continue to learn and grow together. Let’s keep the networking cycle going strong!

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