Like many people, I’m not a great sleeper. Lousy with insomnia, last time I talked with my doctor about the situation she told me that I needed to improve my “sleep hygiene.” You can imagine what she said: Charge my electronics (e.g. phone, tablet, laptop) in another room and leave them there overnight, cut out caffeine and alcohol, go to bed at the same time every night, etc. Truth told, I haven’t done a great job of taking care of that hygiene, however, it did get me thinking about “Networking Hygiene.” How’s yours?
When I think of hygiene, I usually think of personal care… shower regularly, brush your teeth, wash your hands, etc. And, while Networking Hygiene is certainly enhanced by proper body care, that’s not what I mean by the expression. Rather, just as my doc wants me to routinize my sleep patterns (i.e. sleep hygiene), it seems to me that routinizing networking patterns and habits also makes sense.
A few thoughts:
- Set networking goals… and stick to them. By way of example, if you determine to connect or reconnect with three people each week, be sure to make it happen. You could schedule coffee with a prospect on Monday, call an old friend on Wednesday and/or meet a colleague for lunch on Thursday. That’s three. Mission accomplished for this week.
- Maintain a running list of people you want to connect with. I always encourage my clients to keep two lists close at hand and to keep them updated. List #1 is a list of people already in your relationship base who you want to reconnect with – could be someone you see regularly at the gym… could be your childhood neighbor… whoever it is with whom you want to nurture an ongoing relationship. List #2 is a list of people you don’t know or don’t know well, but would like to get to know. And, remember, the people on List #1 can often help to connect you to those on List #2.
- Reach out. Now that you have a goal and a list, start reaching out. This is the most difficult part of networking because it requires action! Be the one to take it. And, bet the one to do the heavy lifting. That is, don’t just ask, “Would you like to get together?” Instead, be specific… ask whether they would like to meet and suggest at least one date, time and location combo to begin the negotiation of scheduling the meetup.
- Be generous. Networking is a team sport! It should be mutually beneficial and bi-directional in nature. Whether there is something specific you want from your contact or not, be ready to ask how you can be helpful to him/her and be prepared to deliver. Your follow through and show of support speaks volumes about who you are and your level of reliability.
- Say “Thank You.” That’s right, do what your mama always told you and say, “Thank You!” when someone has given of their time, information and/or resources. Not only is it polite and the right thing to do, but your contact will take notice of your sincerity and appreciation.
What are you currently doing to manage your Networking Hygiene? Please take a moment to share your tips, tricks and tools with the CLC Community at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com. Happy Networking!