fruitful and less of a chore.
Send an article or other relevant information you think a contact might appreciate, accompanied with a brief note.
Leave benefit-driven voice mail messages, offering important information, resources, or breaking industry news. “A benefit-driven message will allow people to be more inclined to call you back in a timely fashion and makes the recipient more receptive to what you have to say,” says Hilliard. Keep your message brief.
Keep your word. Partnerships are not instantaneous. Don’t make the assumption that you’ll receive immediate benefits because you had a good encounter at an event, explains Melvin Murphy, author of the upcoming book It’s Who You Know! Creating Mentor-Based Alliances, Coalitions and Partnerships through Networking (PSI; $26.95). You have to work at establishing credibility. “Follow up and do the things that you say you’re going to do,” he adds.
Create the win-win from the onset. Although it takes time to set up a reciprocally beneficial alliance where both parties regularly give and receive emotional support as well as information, Giovagnoli advises that the time to start working in that direction is from the beginning. “It becomes easier when you realize that you’re not coming to the relationship empty-handed. I would say the best behavior is to be curious about what matters to other people. Once you find things that matter to them, the next step is to help make those things happen,” she says.
Set goals. Create an overall objective. Determine who you would like to meet. Then develop a set of goals to further that mission. One of your goal criteria can be the number of face-to-face meetings you set up with your existing contacts during a month. Attending a new networking event per week or striving to meet three to five new business contacts at every networking event might be other goals. It’s important that you find out who of interest might be in attendance before you go to these events, so that you can do the necessary research to make the best impression when introduced.
Revisit old contacts. You may already have some old contacts that need revisiting. “You just never know when deepening an existing relationship is actually better than creating a new one,” Hilliard advises. To get yourself back on their radar screen, you can either send a postcard or an article, which doesn’t always have to be entirely business-related. “It can be an article of interest that paves the way for a follow-up phone call or e-mail down the road,” he says.
Don’t be intimidated by hierarchy. You may wonder what you have to offer someone 20 years your senior or professionally in advance of your position. “Your value comes in the form of character, substance, expertise, contacts you already have, services you can provide,” offers Murphy. “We tend to put CEOs and other senior-level professionals on a pedestal that they don’t put themselves on,” he explains. Begin by simply asking how you can provide help. Also keep in mind that providing someone with information they may