Networking to Nurture: How to manage existing relationships

 

“Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”

Tom Peters

Let’s get a little nostalgic and go back to high school.

Before the summer holidays you had a best friend who did everything with you – roller skating (showing my age. I Know!), playing space invaders, sleepovers – yet when you got back to school, she started hanging out with a new group of friends and didn’t seem to be all that interested in you. Sure, she still said hi when you passed in the school corridors but your friendship was never the same and you moved onto another group of friends where you felt a little more wanted and nurtured. 

The same can happen in networking.

Risking a business relationship going cold by not nurturing it is the fastest way to have that person move onto another business, stakeholder, supplier or whatever it is your relationship value represents to that person.

If you get all caught up with looking for new ‘friends’ and racking up a pile of business cards at networking events, you’ll neglect the all-important networking relationships you’ve already made.

So as we head towards the silly season (yes, Christmas and New Year is just around the corner – can you believe it?) let’s have a look at some ways you can nurture existing relationships.

1.       Before you attend an end of year industry event, find out who from your existing connections is going. Be sure to seek them out and spend some quality time with them.

2.       Phone some key contacts you’ve made this year and thank them for giving you their time, business or help.

3.       Host a small catch-up with existing networking connections to build even further on the existing relationship you have them, make them feel valued and provide them with valuable networking opportunities.

4.       Write a thank you note to colleagues who have helped you this year – the IT guy who was always so patient when you couldn’t get Outlook to work, the person who would always be cleaning the staff kitchen and dealing with the latest microwave explosion – and pop it on their desk with a smile and a thank you.

5.       Share some social media love with the companies and organisations you’ve enjoyed doing business with this year. Tag them and thank them with an authentic anecdotal testimonial.

The thing to remember with networking is that it isn’t necessarily about creating NEW contacts or meeting NEW people. Sure, that’s part of it but a successful networker understands that building on existing relationships and allowing relationships to organically grow through some nurturing TLC and appreciation will increase the quality and loyalty associated with that connection. 

And the last few months of the year is the perfect time to do just that.

If you would like to learn a new networking strategy why not register for our 1 Day Workshop in November.

Happy Netships!

Julia

Posted on October 8, 2015 .