A few days ago during productive reflection, I set the task of discovering how many people I knew, how many people I had helped out and, above all, how many I actually really keep in touch with. The focus of this task was not to see who could provide me with help in return, but more so specifically to find out what kind of talent I had in my network and to discover the people with whom I relate to most on a personal and professional level.
I came to a conclusion: it is important to evaluate the quality of our contact network from time to time. No, I’m not saying I’ve uncovered a life changing discovery, however I think that oftentimes, the urgency of our everyday results in our neglect of interpersonal relationships.
For this reason, I would like to share some points as a result of this process, which I hope you can put into practice to create a robust network of contacts that is consistently reciprocal.
Provide value, do not look for profit
To create an effective network of professional contacts, you have to give first in order to receive. Many people make the mistake of only connecting with people they think they can get something from. This is a huge primary mistake. If all you do is ask for favors, your network of contacts will be filled with people who will have a negative filter when it comes to any message you send them. A person who only asks and never contributes becomes an abusive and undesirable person.
On the other hand, when you start to contribute value, they will be more comfortable listening to you and contributing their ideas to yours.
How can you contribute value?
- Listen: If you take the time to pay attention, you will get to know their dreams, their challenges and their passions. In this way, you will have a clear vision of how you can support their dreams and goals.
- Support: If in your realm of possibilities, support your contacts. A reference, an idea, an opinion or simply a few words of encouragement can have an incredible multiplier effect.
- Teach: Knowledge does not work if it is not shared. You will never know for certain if a random fact won’t generate a link with another person or even trigger a new business opportunity or experience.
Become a powerful connector
Imagine the connections you can generate between your network of contacts. For example, an entrepreneur and a financing manager, a person who requires a specific service and a specialist who can provide that service or put him on the road to receiving the right attention. Can you imagine the value you can generate if you present these two people to one another? You will not benefit directly, but you will help to create an impression that you are a reliable, well connected person. Plus it gives off the impression that each person who enters your network can benefit, which may favor your personal brand.
The 5 + 50 + 100 rule
Judy Robinett in her book, Strategic Networking – Required Reading –, exposes this rule:
- There are 5 people that form your intimate circle of contacts. They are people you would trust your personal and professional life with, and you should communicate with them more or less every day.
- You must ensure that the 50 people whom provide great value to your personal and professional life, that the value is reciprocal.
- It also determines that there are 100 vital people in your network of contacts. Maybe not as frequently, but make sure you stay in touch with them also. You should refresh this relationship and be available at once a month.
I found this book by chance on the end of a shelf in a crowded bookstore downtown Mexico City, and I cannot congratulate myself more on such a great find. Because through exercise tables, data and anecdotes, the author exposes some of the points I address in this blog in a great way.
Optimize your social networks
The rule is simple: Facebook is for the personal and LinkedIn is for the professional. Use them for what they were created. Start building your personal brand and generate content accordingly. Never leave your branding aside and be consistent with what you want to convey.
Tips for posting on Facebook:
- Be careful what you share: Facebook is a personal network where you can share interesting content your friends, however, that does not mean that this platform becomes a platform for your most extreme ideas or crazy parties. Remember to keep the content within your own personal brand and share information about your interests, passions, hobbies and passtimes.
- Old friendships: Facebook is an excellent tool to get back in touch with friends from childhood, middle school and high school. You never know if your old childhood friend needs support with their new company or if you share the same hobbies.
- Do not seek to do business on Facebook from your personal profile: Using Facebook to do business is like looking for the love of your life in a place where you do not share interests. It makes no sense to look for people for your new business or business on Facebook because it is a network saturated with spam, trolls and people who use it for the sole purpose of entertainment. If you are going work from a business perspective it is important that you do it from a business page where you can establish credibility.
Tips for posting on LinkedIn:
- Share content from your professional area: Create and share unique and objective content about your area of expertise. This will not only give life to your LinkedIn profile, but it will also give you credibility and position your professional brand in the network.
- It’s not just about creating new connections: Although LinkedIn offers you the invaluable opportunity to grow your professional network, you should not send invitations right and left. Look for your new connections to reinforce your position and that of your contacts.
- Participate in discussion groups: LinkedIn groups are perfect when talking with other people in your field about the topics in trend. Participating in them will allow you to meet more people, new points of view and position your professional brand as an expert on the subject.
A network that is clear of toxic and false contacts is more robust. Be honest with yourself and eliminate toxic people both in your personal and professional life; because apart from not generating value, they suck the energy and resources of your network for their own benefit. Do this exercise and you will discover that very surely, you have the resources, the support and the necessary conduits to achieve your goals.
At Mijo! Brands we can help you manage your professional accounts and those of your executives to give a more professional image that helps you to realize more business by taking advantage of digital channels. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.
David Soffer is Jr. Digital Strategist with Mijo! Brands, a leading creative digital marketing agency with presence in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. David is a graduate of the Bachelor of Communication Sciences at the Technological University of Mexico UNITEC, complemented by courses in editorial design, photography and digital marketing. He has a vocation of service focused on the client and knowledge of human nature, and a vision developed in its passage through different companies with different cultures and degrees of attention. A loyalist in love, who only allows dalliances with literature or through the lens of a camera which positions him in his free time as an independent photographer.