Mackay Maxim: Staying in touch does not mean making a pest of yourself.
One of the most important tasks you can undertake is keeping in touch with the people you meet. When we grow our networks, it’s important to keep conversations flowing and to keep supporting those who might help us sometime down the line. However, it is key to use the time you have with your network constructively – if you waste someone’s time, they’re not going to want to keep you in their network!
Time is money and power, but we only have 24 hours in a day. Pestering people with constant phone calls, emails, and other messages will turn them off to whatever you’re trying to convey. However, there are tips you should follow in order to keep network discussions efficient, constructive, and effective to keep your network strong for years to come.
Optimal Small Talk Balance
Can you imagine if you went to lunch with one of your network connections, only to spend an hour discussing the recent weather – and a mere fifteen minutes discussing business?
Asking about how work is going or how the kids are doing is an excellent way to establish a personal connection with your professional network. However, dawdling over small talk can seriously harm these relationships. It’s important to strike an optimal small talk balance during your network discussions to avoid wasting valuable time.
Keep the small talk to the first ten minutes or less of your meeting. If your partner is keen on talking more, don’t cut them off! Let them finish speaking before you seamlessly make the transition to business. This establishes your credibility as a professional, and you’re able to retain the vital relationship-building component of networking. Win-win.
Do Your Research
No one wants to walk into a networking discussion without knowing what the discussion is about. Showing up to a meeting unprepared not only harms your professional credibility – it wastes everyone’s time.
Before every meeting with a member of your network, make sure to come prepared. Research the work they’ve been doing and brush up on your own. Come to the meeting with questions to ask, favors you need done, and comments on the work your connection has been doing. This will help business discussions run smoothly without you having to ask for basic information – you can skip right to the good stuff!
Keeping in touch with your network outside of face-to-face meetings can be a tricky task. While you want to check in on special occasions, such as Christmas, professional anniversaries, and birthdays, it’s important to find the right communication balance.
Bombarding your network with constant emails or phone calls can lead to radio silence easily. Outside of business discussions, keep up short, friendly conversations throughout the year and send direct communication during special occasions. Otherwise, avoid daily calls and multiple emails – these can annoy your network quickly.
Prepare Resources Beforehand
Before a meeting with a network connection, make sure to prepare resources and information. Maybe you want to get this person to tell their friends about a new product your company is developing. Perhaps you want to partner with their organization to host a community banquet or charity event.
Bring along any product samples, flyers, pamphlets, and other resources that might aid them in making the decision to partner with you. Being able to show them the resources they need to make their decision at the meeting will help you avoid any unnecessary project delays. In addition, it’ll further showcase your credibility, efficiency, and ability to use time constructively!
With constructive strategies like adequate preparation, consistent and balanced communication, and minimal small talk, you’ll be able to spend more time discussing the business that matters – and your network connections will thank you.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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