Keeping Your Network Alive and Well

Establishing a solid network can actually be fun its all about creating a targeted community. Once youve established a strong network, its important to keep the contacts fresh. That can be a bit trickier!

A good rule of thumb is to touch base once every four to six weeks. Its helpful to keep track by setting reminders for yourself so you can get on a regular schedule. Six weeks can slip away quickly!

You may send a newsletter out at the same time each month or perhaps quarterly. Newsletters can be a good way to keep you on the tip of your customers brain but its not very personal.

So in addition to a newsletter, choose another time roughly each quarter to make a one to one contact with each person in your network. This does not need to be formalized, but its a good idea to keep track of who you have contacted with what. Theres nothing quite as embarrassing as sending the same article twice.

In your more personal contact, you may ask about a concern they had the last time you spoke, send along an article you feel theyd enjoy or helpful resource. You may even send a small gift but make it personal. You dont want to send candy to a diabetic or a beautiful cookbook titled 101 Ways to Cook a Chicken to a confirmed vegan.

Of course, one of the best contacts is sending them business. Do this often enough and they will always remember you.

Chat with people in your network and immediately after your meeting, write up a few notes. Do they admire a certain author? Do they see every movie made by a particular actor? Do they have a favorite food? All of these provide opportunities for touching base and avoiding missteps.

You might also read their newsletter and write them a note thanking them for their insights. Be specific in your praise and feel free to ask an intelligent question or two.

Finally, take your industry into consideration and know your audience. Of course its important to be professional, but is it best to be formal or more casual? Do they like (appropriate) humor? Do they like a longer newsletter or is it best to just get to the point? Regardless of the industry, its almost always best to obey the cardinal rule of avoiding religion and politics.