Go with me on this one. In networking, assume you are creating your own personal Justice League. You gather your own collection of Super Friends – a large, diverse group of trusted associates who have expertise in a number of areas, many of which complement your own skills and experiences. From time-to-time, when you need them, you send out some sort of beacon (say an email or a voice message), calling them to attention. You, essentially, ACTIVATE your relationship base.
Backing up a bit, when I first started networking intentionally, I spent nine months focused just on building relationships. During that time, I had 160 meetings and connected with 200 new people. It was a revelation to me that nearly everyone (200 out of 205) people I asked to meet with me said, “YES!” And the reason why they said, “yes?” Because they were seeking connections, too. We provided mutual benefit, mutual value to one another.
Those first days of seeking connections were in early 2008. Now, after more than five years, I have established thousands of connections – literally. Some I have gotten to know very well; others are acquaintances that I know only peripherally. With some, I visited for hours; with others, they were conversations in passing.
With all that in mind, people ask me all the time, “How do you maintain all of those connections?” My answer, which you may or may not like, is… I DON’T!
I find that when the initial connection is genuine, authentic and meaningful, those contacts are willing to receive me back into their lives. Similarly, I am at the ready when they reach out to me.
There have been several times when I have called on my network – times when I needed their input, help, advice, whatever. At those moments, I have ACTIVATED my network. Amped up the intensity of our connections. Requested their urgent attention. They haven’t let me down.
You see, the fact of the matter is that we each have the same 24 hours in a day – we simply fill them up however we choose. Most of us are extremely busy. We are not sitting by the phone or our computer waiting for a particular contact to reach out to us. But, when they do, we are usually really glad to hear from them and ready to take action on their behalves, as necessary.
So, thinking back on the Wonder Twins, my advice to you is that if you want to harness the power of your own Super Hero Ring, (shape of a Networking Contact, form of a Trusted Adviser… you get the idea) be prepared to spring into action when your contacts turn to you for your input, help and advice! In turn, they will be there for you when you seek their counsel on your next career move, request a donation from them for the charity event you are co-chairing, ask them for a referral to a business prospect or simply invite them out for coffee to reconnect.