11 Unique Ways to Nurture Your Personal Network

Nurture Your NetworkAs we work to grow our personal networks, staying in contact with the people we already know often falls to the bottom of our to-do lists.

The trouble is, of course, that any one of those contacts could hold the key to your next opportunity… which means you need to maintain meaningful relationships with as many people as possible.

The good news: with a bit of planning, a dash of creativity and a little effort, you can nurture your network!

Here are eleven unique ways to keep in touch:

1. Not Your Ordinary Holiday Wishes

It seems everyone sends a seasonal greeting in December. But why wait for Christmas to let people know you’re thinking about them? Instead, send greetings for holidays such as Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day or even Groundhog Day. Or, as a trigger for reaching out proactively, pick a more unusual celebration such as National Gumdrop day or National Cat Day.

2. Pay Attention to Birthdays

Social media’s prompting reminders have made it easier to remember to send birthday cheer. However, some of your contacts may not have shared this important date on a social profile, and so this important day slips through the cracks. Be sure to note birthdays on your personal calendar, and go a step above by sending birthday cards through the mail. It takes just that much more thought and effort.

3. Create Your Very Own E-Newsletter

Why would you have a personal e-newsletter? Because the technology is easy, and it’s good personal branding. Your monthly or quarterly e-newsletter should be useful to your readers. For example, if many of your connections are in the tech industry, share current news about new gadgets or reviews of new technology from reputable sources. Don’t forget to include personal updates, such as major milestones, ongoing education or training, events you’ve attended or projects you are working on.

You can send a simple email; just be sure you blind copy recipients to protect privacy. And never spam people by adding them to your mailing list without permission or the option to opt out.

4. Say Congratulations

When your contacts are mentioned or published in the news, congratulate them on the good public relations. You can use Newsle, Google Alerts, Topsy or Social Mention to customize the news updates on people and companies in your network.

5. Send a Token

For extra-special people, you may want to send a book you know they’ll enjoy. If you are looking for less expensive alternatives, consider Starbucks’ “Tweet-a-coffee” feature, which sends a $5 dollar gift card to the U.S. Twitter recipient you designate. Or maybe give a gift card to a favorite lunch spot.

There are also ideas that may seem a bit over-the-top but that might just work. If you share a mutual interest in gardening, send forget-me-not seeds along with a note about how you value the connection with the person. If you both love to travel, send a postcard from your next trip that says, “Wish You Were Here.” Or bring back some swag from a conference, and send it along with a message about your takeaways from the event.

6. Turn Bad Into Good

Remember that job you were a runner-up for? Or that potential client that didn’t come through? Don’t give up. One way to stay in front of them is to send your contact a follow-up email or letter about three months after the new hire started or after the deal went through. Sincerely express your hope that all is going well and that you’d would always be open to future conversations.

7. Share Useful News

Sending a message that says, “just checking in!” can feel like a waste of time for you and the person receiving it. Share a tidbit of useful and current news. Perhaps there are changes in regulations or policies with the industry; why not share these with those in your network who need to know? Keep up to date by using Feedly, LinkedIn or whatever your favorite source of news is.

8. Pick Up The Phone

Sometimes, just picking up the phone for a quick check-in can be a welcome surprise. Try calling first thing in the morning, at lunch or at the end of the day, when people are more likely to be near the phone and not in meetings. If you get voice mail, leave a short message with your name and phone number, and share a snip-it of interesting information.

9. Write a Recommendation

LinkedIn is the perfect platform to recommend a past colleague, service provider or client. When someone receives an unsolicited recommendation, it is a welcome surprise.

10. Connect People

Do you know two people you think would benefit from meeting each other? Be a matchmaker and introduce them. Send one email to both people and explain why you think they would benefit from meeting. Provide enough information  so each person can understand the potential in the relationship and know how to research and contact one another.

11. RSVP +1

The next time you receive an invitation to an event or fundraiser, consider inviting one of your contacts to join you. This is a great way to rekindle a relationship, remind the person you’re inviting that you care, and to make new contacts as you work the room together!

The first step to making sure your creative contact system really works: get organized!

Using a formal customer relationship management system, a simple Excel spreadsheet or or the LinkedIn contact notes section, create your database now. Add important information about your network contacts like birthdays, names of partners/spouses, children, college attended, organizations, interests, favorite food and so on.

Of course, you’ll need to carve out the time to make this work. But keep things simple! Put reminders to send outreach and important dates on your calendar. Here are some suggestions:

  • Weekly: Check LinkedIn and Facebook notifications for work anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Monthly: Plan the outreach for the month- who do you need to touch base with and what will you do.
  • Annually: Evaluate the strength of your network? Have you done enough to stay in touch?

Staying in touch with your existing contacts will pay big dividends. Get started today!

 

For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Career Sherpa!

 

Career Sherpa

 

HannahAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa, and follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!

 

 

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