Yesterday I had one of many valuable creative chats with Chip Hartman. One of the topics of our conversation was the importance of building relationships in professional network and knowing how to accomplish such. After our discussion I jotted down an outline from which to write an article for ETP.
Although I could not attend the conference call last night I listened to the recording during my morning commute. Rather then wait until I have a polished and perfected article, I took Chip's enthusiasm as a sign that I should distribute what information I do have now even though it's in a raw form.
Much of this focuses on the use of online internet tools but that should not be a substitute for telephone calls nor face to face meetings when the relationship develops to that stage.
Stage 1. Get to know the person you want to develop a relationship with via their work and their interests.
- Search for their LinkedIn profile but don't ask to connect to them yet as the value of the relationship is not yet known.
- Search for their Facebook profile but don't ask to be a friend yet.
- Search for them on twitter and follow them if permission is not required.
- Find out what publications (magazine, e-newsletters, podcasts) they contribute to or publish and of course read them.
- Find out what organizations they belong to and consider joining them. Sharing a common interest can provide a common bond in the future.
- If possible find out what blogs they read and post comments to.
- Google them to find out more ways to reach them. If they are a publicly known individual setup a Google alert so you'll know when they or their company are in the news.
- Purchase their product or service and give direct feedback (not only good points but constructive valuable criticisms and ways they can improve/expand).
- Read and leave valuable comments on their blog if they have one and on blogs you know that they read.
- Recommend their product/service on LinkedIn.
- If appropriate (i.e. a book) write a useful and insightful review on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com
- Build a relationship with those that connect you to that person if you haven't yet established a direct relationship.
- Find a way to continually provide value to them on an ongoing basis to keep the relationship alive. For example, provide endorsements and referals for their product/service.
- Once you have a trusted relationship ask to connect with them on Linkedin, Facebook and Plaxo.
- Get to know their birthday (if you have not obtained it already via Plaxo) and what holidays they observe so you can contact them on those dates.
- Get to know more about them such as if they are a Mother, Father, Veteran or other things you may have in common.
- If they require permission to follow them on twitter this may be the time to ask.
- Keep an eye on changes to their profiles, Google alerts and such and congratulate them or comment on news regarding them.
- As the relationship develops occasional phone calls and face to face meetings should occur.
- Once you have a lasting trusted relationship you may now ask for a favor or assistance regarding a shared interest.
- However, of course remember that networking is a two way street. If a favor is asked of you do whatever you can to deliver.
- Now your strong relationship will reach out so that friends of friends on both sides benefit as the cycle of networking continues like ripples on a pond.
Building mutually valuable relationships requires a serious investment of time. However, I'll let you in on a secret. In committing to such you have an advantage since not everybody is willing to make that investment. Those that don't understand the value of networking and who are looking for quick drive by results won't do such. So be smart and successful by using the above road map to achieve your professional goals via building valuable warm trusted relationships!
I've found the ETP Network to be an excellent educational venue and I'm very happy to share what I've learned. The favor I ask of you is to please supply me with feedback. If you've found some thing that worked for you please share so that we can all learn from our mutual experiences. On the other hand if some thing above does not work for you please let us know so that we can determine alternatives as well.
Finally, I have to thank Chip Hartman for being such a great catalyst and mentor regarding my writings. Some times I don't realize the wealth of useful knowledge I've learned via my professional networking and involvement in the ETP Network. So Chip thanks for reminding me and encouraging me to share with the group.