Networking: Assessing and Making the Most of Your Connections

“Your network is your net worth.”

— Porter Gale

If you’ve been following our networking blog series, you’ve learned how to network effectively in a virtual world, how to develop and maintain authenticity while networking and how to choose a mentor.

Your networking journey should also include thoughtful periodic looks at your connections, fair assessments of where you are most successful and areas where you should improve.

Don’t Rely on Your Memory

In her Fast Company article, “5 Critical Questions to Answer to Assess Your Networking Skills,” Bea Fields notes: 

“…A human being can only hold about five to seven key networking partners in their brains at one time. So, if you are trying to truly network with thousands of people, you are bound to lose connection with someone along the way. As a matter of fact, if you are trying to truly network with thousands of people, there are probably many who you will simply forget about overtime.”

Most people struggle with just hundreds of people in their professional networks. Relying on LinkedIn to keep track of your networking is cumbersome. Yet, tracking your contacts and interactions with each individual in your network, including all your social networks and offline interpersonal connections, is a valuable use of your time.

Track Interactions

If your organization uses contact relationship management (CRM) software, consider yourself fortunate. Make use of all its features.

“With a CRM system in place, every question, every service request, every preference and every past contact detail about every customer is instantly available, which means that every new interaction with them should always be personalized, relevant and up to date. As well as tracking every phone call, email sent, meeting held and presentation delivered, CRM systems can also be used to add notes, schedule follow-ups and organize the next steps that need to be taken. This ensures that opportunities to close deals or grow customer accounts won’t be missed,” says SalesForce.

If you are networking for your career, track the same information—every interaction—in a spreadsheet. Reviewing that information periodically will help you note where you’ve been successful and where you might need to up your game. Most importantly, you’ll know when it has been too long since your last interaction and when to touch base again.

The only way you’ll know who your most valuable connections are is in hindsight.

Assess Your Success

The only way you’ll know who your most valuable connections are is in hindsight.

Don’t underestimate the potential of connections who stay under the radar. They could be the connection who ends-up referring a client or job opportunity. Impressive, consistently engaged connections don’t always follow through. You never know when someone in your network will surprise you.

So do the work. Stay in touch. Don’t rely on your memory. (Does anyone have that much brainpower left after all this social distancing?) Keep notes and review them.

One day, out of the blue, your network will come through for you. It just might be from a place you least expected. 

More networking tips:

See the case studies in Harvard Business Review: How to Make Your Network Work for You

Business Development Tips: Save Your Contacts: “One piece of advice I give every attorney, professional and business owner I work with involves an everyday habit with email. Do you save your contacts? Your best marketing and business development tool is hiding in your inbox. It’s your contacts’ email addresses.”

Nelida Ruiz is a marketing and business development consultant and coach helping business owners maximize thought leadership with blogs, articles, and social media. For more of her work visit www.nelidaruiz.com