Have you ever met a great contact, then found yourself cautious to email them months later because you’re not sure if they even remember who you are? I sure have.
I’ve wrote about this before, but the biggest networking fail is consistency.
A great networker strategically massages his network in order to turn acquaintances into trusted professional contacts and friends. The methodology for doing this is simple – consistently provide value to these acquaintances without expecting anything in return. Just like content marketing, time + value is the magic formula.
Anyone who’s attempted this realizes that building relationships this way can be challenging and time-consuming. After all there’s only so many relevant articles to ping, feedback to provide, or potential hires to source out there. Sometimes, the well runs dry earlier than we anticipate.
A tactic that I employ to massage these relationships beyond the more obvious ways to add value is to take advantage of the psychological power provided by connecting on social networks. Say wha?
Every time someone connects with, follows, or friends me on an online platform they re-insert themselves into the top of my mind. They also implicitly signal to me that:
a) they’re thinking of me
b) they believe we’re close enough to connect
c) they’re interested in consuming the content and value derived from connecting on a specific platform
Assuming they’re doing it an appropriate manner, all of these signals engender a positive feeling about the person connecting with me. To be blunt, it makes me like them more.
Given this effect and the challenges of keeping an acquaintance warm over time, I think an effective practice is to be strategic about the act and timing of connecting across certain platforms. This is done by intentionally budgeting these interactions over the course of time. Why not let someone know I’m thinking of them every 3 weeks, instead of friending them on 436 social networks at once?
When I’m serious about targeted networking, I use this practice as part of an overarching methodical approach that involves logging the date and context of our last interaction amongst other details.
I do this in order to avoid the plight that comes with inconsistency described earlier. Typically I aim to provide value to an acquaintance that I really want to become close with every 2-4 weeks until I feel our relationship crosses a certain intimacy threshold. But again, sometimes I run out of unique ways to do this so I opt for connecting on a social network because I believe it encourages the development of our relationship and places me top of mind.
Is this a bit over the top? Probably. Does it work? It seems to. In fact, I take advantage of the “top of mind effect” all the time in my business development dealings. I’ll reserve linkedin connection requests in case I’m trying to push a deal through and need to call upon a subtle nudge just to remind them I’m there. You’d be surprised how many contracts have come through at the foot of a “Sorry, I totally forgot about this” email, after I’ve requested to connect with someone during a lull in the conversation.
There’s implicit value that can be dervied within every social interaction we engage in online. Recognizing this is the first step in finding ways to use this to your advantage.
Don’t let friending the cute person you met last weekend be the only time you’re strategic about the the timing of a connection ; )