When it comes to building your network for professional or personal reasons, many fail themselves simply because they don’t do the due diligence of following up with people they have met. Building relationships is an investment and it is most beneficial when it is long term. If you want to have a strong extended network, you need to invest your time in building and nurturing those relationships accordingly. Number one mistake people make is they look at networking as short term to get something they want (an opportunity, a business deal, a job, a referral, etc.). Don’t think short term, think long term. People refer people they like, they trust, and they know. That takes time to build! Networking should be organic and genuine. Just as in our personal lives, not everyone we will meet we will like and vice versa. The goal is not to connect with everyone, the goal is to connect with those who we have common interests or areas of work with, those we can get along with, those we can genuinely build a relationship with. Not everyone you will meet is going to be that and that is okay. Do not force connections. People feel when you are not genuine and frankly speaking nobody wants to have a put on/forced interaction. Keep it simple, keep it human.
Rule 3: Rebuild a connection when possible
How often have you met someone, established a connection, found common areas of interest personally or professionally, yet months went by and you never spoke with them. Then, you remember them and decided to reach out but at that stage you have not spoken with them in months and now find yourself with a dilemma of whether or not they will remember you or if it is even appropriate to reach out after months of neglecting the relationship?
Quick answer: just reach out anyway, do your due diligence and send that email/make that phone call. What is the worst that will happen? They won’t respond? It is okay. Don’t answer for them and don’t make assumptions. You can say something along the lines of “Hi Mariam, I cannot believe it has been months since we last met at the forum, how have things been for you? I would love to have a chance to catch up with you and hear your updates, as well as refresh our acquaintanceship, please do let me know your availability over the next couple of weeks. I really look forward to catching up. “
Building relationships should not be hard, it should be simple, organic, and genuine. Best way to get started? Just get started, that is the best way and practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to get out there and start connecting, building your network. What is the worst that can happen?