Have you heard the saying “you’re judged by the company you keep?” The same could be said for your network of business and personal connections.
But this goes well beyond how you’re perceived, because we all know that your network of relationships can make or break your business. Plus, you’ll want to start the new year off with a good idea of who’s in your network and how you can best work with them in 2016.
When you’re hunting for referrals, some new leads, or in need of references from other professionals, who do you turn to? It’s well worth getting to know your network, so when those situations come up, you’ll know exactly who to give a call and you won’t be left scrambling through your contact database.
Before you spend your entire day making lists of who’s who in your network, we’ve got some quick 5 minute tips to help you better get to know your connections, without all the hassle.
Know your network in 5 minutes…or less
You know which friend you would call when you’re in need of something specific right? From the friend who gives great advice, to the friend who’s always happy to go shopping with you, you know that they’ll be there for you when you need them the most. So why not do the same with your business network?
1. Brainstorm Specifics
To start, brainstorm exactly the type of people or professionals who can be most helpful to you. You can call it your “Who Do I Call: list. Think about those professionals in related fields that you’ve found to be useful in the past, or who you think may be helpful to you in the future. For realtors, this may be brokers, city council members, or that great local plumber; all professionals to know and ones that a realtor could call on when they’re in a bind. Once you have your quick list of ideal people in your network, you just need to find them!
2. Go Through LinkedIn
According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of all online adults with college degrees, have a presence on LinkedIn…that’s almost half of that population. That means there’s bound to be helpful people on there in your area, that you may know and that could potentially be helpful to you in your career at some point in the future. Go ahead and scroll through your list of connections, you can easily glean their job title, location, and their photo right on that list, it’ll help jog your memory of who you’re connected with and what they’re working on.
Plus, LinkedIn is great about updating you when your connections have a work anniversary or a new job, giving you the perfect opportunity to congratulate them…and update your list of good people to keep in touch with! Utilize your quick glance through your LinkedIn connections to ‘like’ any new job updates, and connect with any of those ‘people you may know’ who pop up. Even if you don’t personally know them, they tend to be working in a related field or located near you, giving you a great opportunity to expand your network!
3. Check Out Other Social Media Channels
Once you’ve evaluated your LinkedIn connections, move over to Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t have an active presence on either platform, we definitely recommend trying it out! To create the quickest experience of getting to know your network, and to avoid spending your day endlessly scrolling through your feeds of friends and followers just to find one specific person, you can create a group or list to aggregate your network all in one place.
On Facebook, you can easily create a Group based on people in your area, or within your profession, or if you’re feeling benevolent, you can just pull together people and professionals in your network that you think would be useful and beneficial to all to be connected.
On Twitter, you can create a list and add any followers or people in your network that you would like to see all in one place. We’ve all been sucked into a Twitter hole of scrolling through your newsfeed and realizing you’ve lost an hour. Instead of wasting too much time, you can go straight to your list or group and take a quick look at their updates, see what they’re working on and avoid the social media trap.
5 Minutes Later…
So, now what? While the set up of some of these lists and groups may take you a little more time, once you have them established, it gives you a great outlet to check up on your network regularly and more importantly, quickly. Make sure to keep in mind who in your network you want to keep an eye on and who could potentially lend you a hand professionally and then go ahead and regularly check up on your network.
Scan through LinkedIn or your curated list on Twitter to get the best updates and of course, reach out to them. The best way to maintain your network is by staying top of mind and doing some routine maintenance on your relationships. Don’t be afraid to connect with someone new on LinkedIn, you never know how they can enhance your network.