Hot take: Networking efforts aren't always outward-facing.
We think of the act of networking as being focused solely on those folks we are trying to meet, new people, strangers.
And therefore external to our current network.
What if we shifted our focus from always looking outside our network to looking inward?
What if we included the development of our current relationships in our networking efforts?
We know that networking is just another name for relationship building, but in a professional setting.
And we think of it, generally, as the act of adding new connections to our circle.
Which is totally correct!
Just not totally complete.
Because in addition to meeting new people and adding to our network of relationships, we also need to strengthen our current relationships!
No one likes the surface-level, small talk-oriented interactions of old-school networking events. So why would we like surface-level relationships?
Which is why networking is as much about the depth of relationships as it is breadth.
So let’s spend some time and energy on the folks we already know, and deepen those existing relationships.
Here are 3 easy and immediate ways to strengthen your network right now:
Connect people you know to each other
This is about thinking beyond the current conversation or situation in front of you. It’s taking the information one step further to say “hey this person I’m talking to is saying they are planning a wedding and looking for an officiant - let me connect them with my friend Karli who is a certified wedding officiant!”
(wait, omg, did you know I for real officiate weddings?!! So cool, right?!)
How can I connect people?
Send them a DM of the other’s social media page
Connect on LinkedIn
Add/follow on social media
Start a group text
Send an email copying both of them to make an introduction (as a business owner, this one is my favorite!)
You really want to do the thing??!
Go have coffee/ice cream/happy hour with the people you are connecting
Invite both of them to events where they could meet *and* enjoy themselves
You get to connect with both people you know AND help them build new relationships - it’s a double win!
Connect with people you already know
Deepen existing connections to strengthen your network.
People do business with/vote for/follow/elect people they like, people they know, people they trust. Not people they met one time in passing and collected a business card from.
So turn those connections into real, meaningful relationships!
One of my favorite ways to do that is to send short messages - a text, DM, or message!
Try to make it direct (like a DM or text) rather than a social media comment or like.
I especially love sending a picture or meme along with the message. You’ll totally make someone's day!
Leave a review or testimonial
Review a business, organization, non-profit, or event on Google, Facebook, or Yelp.
As a small business owner, I cannot tell you enough how the 60 seconds it takes for you to type 2 sentences about my products/services truly, for better or worse, affects my business, success, and morale.
Internet algorithms require it.
Logistically for a business/organization/nonprofit/event/etc (and emotionally for the owner), it is a massive deal.
And it requires so very little time and effort from you, the consumer, friend, family member, or connection.
Here’s your challenge:
The next time you are waiting to engage in something (in the drive-thru, waiting in line, in the lobby at the doctor’s office, in the airport, etc) CONNECT SOMEONE!
Leave a review, send a text, connect folks online!
So easy AND you could change the trajectory of someone’s whole day!
What an incredible opportunity.
Now get out there and deepen those relationships!
Connect your people!
Make networking not suck!!
PS: This is just once of the topics covered in my workshop "Networking 101: For People Who Hate Networking" which you can read more about here!