One of the greatest professional assets is who you know and who knows you. According to a study of over 600 MBA grads, with 56 % earning over $100,000, “Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe a person skilled at networking could see a “significant, substantial or dramatic” impact on income — even up to a 100-percent increase.”
That means “soft work” like networking can have a pretty substantial ROI.
Also, the source of the study, UpMo, pointed out that despite popular opinion, having a “wide net” of contacts can offer more value than only focusing on a few, deep connections.
This is really good advice, but for someone trying to maintain a sane schedule, it can seem very overwhelming to try to keep it touch with hundreds or thousands of people.
I’ve seen the power of networking in my own career and have developed these “triage” strategies for efficient, yet personal communication:
- Weekly Conference Calls–Every Monday at 10:45 a.m. CT, I touch base with two other young entrepreneurs–Lauren Berger and Morgan First. They keep me motivated and inspired and moving ahead on business development.
- Monthly Mentor Calls–I check in with Tonya Ramsey, a business and personal mentor who listens to me talk through my thoughts and shares her wisdom. (Time: 1 hour Memory Cue: Next call scheduled through e-mail immediately following completion of a call.)
- Monthly Coach Calls–I check in with Mitch Matthews, a business coach with A Kick in the Pants who helped me launch Real Life E® and now does “monthly maintenance” calls (Time: 30 minutes Memory Cue: Next call scheduled before the end of the call.)
- Monthly Key Contact E-Mail–I send out an e-mail to a few business professionals who have offered me solid advice and asked me to keep in touch about my progress, like Lindsey Pollak. (Time: 15-30 minutes to complete Memory Cue: On monthly repeat in my Palm Z22.)
Bottom Tier (very important, but not very close contacts):
- Mass Update E-Mail–Two to three times a year, I send a “here’s what’s happening in Elizabeth’s world e-mail” out to people in my address book who might be interested. In college, I sent these out to let people know when I had a new internship or when I was laid-off and looking for a new job. I find that even reaching out to people once every six months keeps them feeling connected to you and invested in your career. (Time: Because of my number of contacts, this can take about 4 hours Memory Cue: Typically send out anniversary updates for Grace Communications Inc. in October, Real Life E® in January, and sometimes send out a summer update (if there’s something super fabulous going on ;o)
In addition to using these strategies, I also do some networking on social media like:
- Twitter.com (ID: RealLifeE)
These tools and using more formal communications like newsletters through iContact can definitely help you keep in touch with professional contacts. But I’ve found that my “triage” approach has really brought excellent quality results in both the corporate and entrepreneurial world.
Later this week, I’ll post my most recent update so you can get a feel for the kind of message I send out.
To maintaining a brilliant network without burning out!
Time Strategies Trainer
These are super tips for networking!
They’re concrete, and demonstrate that the time involved is manageable for most people on a weekly basis.
Many people shy away from networking because they see it as an overwhelming chore.
Thanks for helping to simplify it, and clarifying that there are tiers within a network. At UpMo, we refer to them as comrades, colleagues and contacts:
Mike Stuart says
Nice post Elizabeth! Its sometimes hard when you are working “in” your business to schedule time to work “on” your business. Networking and scheduled mentor calls keeps us focused and continually learning! As a family focused entrepreneur, this is a big part of my message in helping people achieve true work life balance.
Thanks for your comment Jessica!
UpMo has fantastic information that I wanted to share with others. I’ve been able to keep in touch with literally thousands of people using these simple, strategic methods.
Have a brilliant day!
Mitch Matthews says
Home run… AGAIN!
Great stuff. Clear… Concise and Fun.
Thanks for the shout out too!
By the way… the new site looks fantastic. I’m excited for you!
Keep dreaming BIG and inspiring those around you!
Thanks for the feedback Mike! Yes–a wide net of contacts continually provides leads for our businesses, but or close contacts give us the encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward. I’m thankful for them!
Lindsey Pollak says
These are great networking tips! I especially like the “memory cues” — it’s hard for people to make networking a “to-do” item when they are busy, so these memory cues are a great way to make sure networking is always on your schedule.
I’m proud to be in your network, Elizabeth!
It’s a blessing to be connected to you too! If you’re in Gen Y, you should definitely check out Lindsey’s expertise on making the transition from College to Career.
Have a brilliant day!