Make the relationships you have, and the relationships you want to have, really count. Having a million connections on LinkedIn or another social media site is good, but is it really smart? I see a lot of people investing a lot of their time and energy into what they think is good networking but really are just wasting their minutes and effort. While networking is a very valuable tool to enrich your career or increase the number of donations or gain a knowledgeable mentor, unless it is used properly it is just a word being thrown around.
- Leave your comfort zone: As I continue to increase the number of accounts that I manage daily, I always have to remind myself to get outside my comfort zone. I noticed that people tend to gravitate towards other who are similar to them, similar personality, similar attitude and often times, similar industry. While this may cause you to feel less nervous in social situations, it does not help you build your client base. Why wait for a peer to introduce you to the decision maker? Why not go directly to that decision maker? It probably makes you feel less nervous to wait for the introduction, but (here’s a rhetorical question) does it help you get ahead?
- Manage the follow up: After you’ve created a connection with an account, don’t forget to follow up! This could be as personal as sending a hand-written thank you note, a relevant article that made you think of them, an invitation for coffee to get to know each other personally. Always follow up and follow up quickly! I have found that my best accounts are those that I have become friendly with, we don’t just talk work, but have blurred the lines. And make sure you’ve got a system to keep track of each time you’ve reached out to the account, whether a formal CRM or just Excel, don’t forget to follow up.
- Know when to leave: Sometimes you just have to come to the realization that an account is a sunk cost. You may have invested a lot of energy and have in turn received a lot of positive feedback but remember to always look at the account at a macro level- what is your ROI? Has your cost-benefit analysis deemed this account worthwhile? I am not recommending that you ever burn any type of relationship, but there are only 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. Dunbar’s Number states that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships within the brain…so make each one count!
Have any questions about this blog? Want to just grab coffee? Add me on LinkedIn and shoot me a message… I may just have a few extra spaces within my 150.