Networking Know-how: The Top 5 Tips to Manage Contacts

IMG_5712DRIVEN’s recent Network Management Workshop was another incredible event, focused on how to utilize the multiple contacts and potential life-changing individuals we meet at various events. It can be very overwhelming, not only meeting people, but also knowing how best to follow up (or even when to follow up). We know we want to keep people updated with what we are doing, but we’re not always exactly sure what to ask of them, even when they offer their help.

Below are five tips to manage contacts we meet at networking events.

Identify People in Your Network Who You Like, Resonate With, and Know

Surround yourself with people you like who are influential in your network, and know how to stay in touch with them. This may appear simplistic, but in connecting with individuals you like and who like you, they will be more willing to respond to your requests for their time, support you in your endeavors, or refer you business. You’ll find that you’ll be more willing to do the same for them in return.

Help Your Network Understand What You Do

Do your contacts understand your referral message? Do they really understand what you do or what makes you unique in your industry? If not, that dramatically decreases your opportunities for business referrals as an entrepreneur, or opportunities for promotion in a large organization. Don’t be afraid to tell, or even coach your contacts, mentors, or colleagues on who you are and what you stand for.

Know What Your Network Needs

Give, give, give. Giving without expecting anything in return is the most important thing in networking. Too many people are so focused on what they need or want to receive, that in reality, they never fully achieve their goals. It will be the unexpected give to you, from them, that may come all of a sudden, or even a few years later, that will support you in your goals. In the meantime, focus on the value you can give to others through introductions, referrals, and your network’s additional needs. Doing this will increase your position as an influencer and leader in your community, which is always a positive thing, not to mention a great way to support your ultimate vision.

Bucket Your Connections

When you meet someone or have known them for a while, how would you describe your relationship to them? Are they mentors, colleagues, clients, venders, mentees. Perhaps, they are a rising star, a member of your team or a lead to a potential client. Bucketing your connections is a great way to better organize your contacts in a way that is easier for you to utilize and follow up. The follow up can be manual, or if using customer relationship management tools such as Insightly or Contactually, can be systematic and an easier way to bucket contacts together when following up, especially if following up in large numbers.

Start With Ten

Networking or reinitiating contacts with someone can feel overwhelming. Just start with ten people. We all have stacks of business cards, and some of us even have lots of business or LinkedIn contacts. Selecting ten people to connect with can be a beneficial and digestible way to start to utilize your contacts. Networking or follow up does not have to be overwhelming. Remembering to take small steps is important in achieving any goal especially if it’s an action that makes you feel uncomfortable. Stepping outside your comfort zone to network or follow up can make the difference between getting the promotion or not, securing the client or not, or closing the sale or losing the sale. And as Deborah Goldstein says, “80% of success is follow up!”

Jessica RobinsonJessica Robinson is Founder and CEO of PurePoint International, helping people and companies to be safe. As a security and risk management expert and outsourced Chief Security Officer, CSO, she conducts risk assessments and employee training on cyber and physical security, information protection, and threat prevention. 

PurePoint International provides affordable products, training and consulting focused on creating a safe and empowered workplace for startups, middle market companies, and international non-profits. Jessica led and supported a $600M business with Target Corporation, and worked with the 2015 U.S. Open. Jessica is co-author of the #1 best-selling book Mission Unstoppable: Extraordinary Stories of Failures & Blessings, and was selected as a 2015 Woman of Distinction by Women of Distinction magazine.

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