How to build a network of contacts

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As John Donne once wrote, "no man is an island," and nowhere is that truer than the world of business. In the interconnected era of 2018, your strength is only as good as your LinkedIn connections.

Building a network of contact is a tricky, nuanced business, and the stakes couldn't be higher. After all, your industry peers are those you'll hire, learn from, and work with. That said, there are strategies you can use.

Offer value

If you do something for someone, they're more likely to remember you later down the line. In all your business relationships, consider how best you can offer value to the other party. This could be something as simple as a LinkedIn endorsement, or a link to an article you think they might find interesting.

If they go above and beyond for you, an email to their boss expressing what a wonderful job they’ve done is always appreciated. A kind gesture goes a long way.

Celebrate their triumphs

Has your contact gotten a promotion or a new job? Is it their birthday? Say congratulations!

It suggests that you actually care about them, and elevates your relationship from something superficial to something more meaningful. Calendar reminders are quick to create, so make notes when they mention an event coming up online. They will be happily surprised you remembered.

Make time to meet up

The Internet has facilitated millions of new relationships, and thanks to platforms like Twitter and Instagram, it's easier than ever to meet people in your vertical. That said, there's nothing quite like meeting someone over lunch. Having a meal or a drink with your local contacts regularly is a fun way to check in if you haven’t had time to speak with them.

If you’re a remote worker, when you are travelling, see if you’ll be near a potential contact. It’s always worth pinging them to see if they’ll grab a coffee with you. Connecting online is one thing, but getting the face time with someone and seeing how you work together is another.

Someone who might be a bit shy over Twitter might actually be gregarious over a few cappuccinos!

Ask for their expert opinion

Everyone's experience is different. Different situations result in different lessons, each with their own value. If you're stuck on a problem, reach out to your network and see what they can do for you. They might have the answer you've been desperately looking for.

Be sure to ask about their work, not just your inquiry, and show your gratitude. No one can ever be too generous, and that generosity needs to be remembered.

It’s also helpful to know your strengths, so you can offer your own professional advice. Find out what your new connection may need help with, and see if your skills match up!

Follow them through their career

In the world of PR and Communications, it's not unheard of for people to change roles every few years. It's far too easy to lose track of those in your network. It's not easy, but try and keep track of those you've met throughout your career journey. You might be thankful you did.

KATHERINE HUGHES, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS