How to Convert your Networking Contacts into Meaningful Relationships with Professional Tools
I’ve been there, done that, and continue to do so, but I have to confess; nothing quite rivals the sensation of making new connections who could hold doors open for you.
Nonetheless, I’ve witnessed tons of promising new professional relationships end up crumbling like a house of cards, due to a poor foundation. That “nice meeting you” email goes unanswered or worse yet, your fiery conversation fades away into nothingness. Separated by weeks of dead silence, you and your shiny contact eventually cross the point of no return…
If you’ve found yourself in such situations quite often, I’m here to share my experience.. During my early days, I found it a herculean task to create and maintain the relationships needed for my business. It took up a lot of time and effort!
That was until I started doing things the smart way, with a little help from modern networking technology. If your aim is to build solid professional relationships from your networking contacts, I have a couple of handy tips on nurturing valuable relationships for the long haul.
1. Note vital details during meetups
A good professional relationship is a two-way street. It’s not just about what you can get out of me, but also what you can offer in return.
A lot of the time, I meet many professionals at networking events who make this one mistake. Almost always, the very first follow-up message or conversation is all about what you want and it ends up seeming like there’s nothing in it for the person on the other end. It’s all just me, me, me.
Generally, I’ve found that people are willing to create new networks if the relationship seems:
- Mutually beneficial
- Worth the effort
- Relevant and feels right
So during that first meetup, be sure to have a digital notepad with you to take notes about your new contact so you can determine what you can best offer in return. I find these offer better longevity than actual paper.
It helps to pay attention to the detail and to not only view your new contact as the answer to your career dilemmas. Bring in the perspective that you’re a problem solver. To this end, you’ll want to curate a couple of useful ideas on how you can be of assistance to your new contact.
2. Strike while the iron is hot
The human mind can be quite frail in memory. So it helps to get in touch as soon as you can. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
While you won’t want to propose a meet-up right away, you could ease into this new relationship by chatting with your contacts via direct message on a professional enterprise contact management platform.
Social media is great, but remember that you’ll be defined by your first impression. I find that an initial DM on social media feels unprofessional, invasive, and generally doesn’t paint the best picture of you.
Using a professional platform allows you to put your best forward and makes you look:
- Professional and trustworthy
- Serious about your work and committed
- And there’s little chance your new contact will stumble upon embarrassing posts
Preferably, you’ll want to live chat your new contacts and build familiarity using a secure remote networking platform of your choosing. Kicking off a professional relationship on social media isn’t always an ideal way to go, although I’ve seen a few people find success taking that route.
3. Set up a meeting as soon you can
Be sure to quickly work your way up to a meeting as soon as you can. While you won’t want to seem overly pushy here, you could dangle a carrot to sweeten the pot. I typically make a promise and offer value to a meeting to catalyze participation. That’s a sure-fire way to earn yourself an audience.
For instance, point new connections in the direction of resources they could use to grow their business, among other incentives depending on your contact’s line of work and your expertise.
If your new contact is unavailable for a physical meetup for some reason, find out if they’d be open to a remote meet up and that’s where virtual meeting scheduling tools can bail you out.
Before that, you’ll want to make sure you:
- Double-check availability the day leading up to the meeting to avoid last-minute scheduling conflicts
- Set reminders so you aren’t late or forget about it altogether
- Can take note of meeting conversations or get a hold of transcripts for reference
Taking minutes is especially important as it allows you to reflect on the success of the meeting, what you need to do to improve, and what you talked about in great detail: all of which will help your new relationship to thrive.
4. Keep up with your contact’s career changes
Career changes can be a whirlwind to track. Your contacts will move up to higher positions, switch companies, or even embark on an entrepreneurial journey of their own that could have a place for you in it.
So always be on top of what your new connection is up to career-wise. I find this is way easier to do with an efficient contact management tool that has automatic network update features.
That’s how I’m always one step ahead with congratulatory messages in the case of a promotion, among other gestures that prove just how much the relationship matters to me. I can only imagine how much follow-up work you have to deal with if you are manually keeping track of dozens of new contact changes every so often.
Nothing kills a relationship faster than conversing with contacts about a company they’ve left, with the assumption that they still work there. Personally, I wouldn’t do business with any professional that makes this mistake.
It gives off the vibe that you may not be totally invested in the relationship. Worse yet, it shows an inability to do basic research, which raises doubts about you as a professional.
Ultimately, I can sum up all you need to do to build meaningful relationships in four words: be genuine and persistent.
Your new contacts need to know that you’re not just interested in their job titles, but the actual person behind that. This is the best way to build relationships that go the distance. Additionally, you may want to tap into modern smart networking tools to help you nurture your new networking relationship, making it easy to keep tabs on your contact’s interests and what they’re truly passionate about.
Let’s stay in touch: www.staytouch.com/@gaurav