Jump Start Your Network

Networking is often identified as a key business building activity for small business owners, especially those just getting started. Often we think of networking as meeting as many new people as possible. However often, as was pointed out to me following a recent presentation I gave on networking, we overlook a key group of people as we set out to develop our network. And that is those people we already know.

Incorporating the people you already know into your networking activities is crucial because you already have a relationship with them.

They are people with whom you already have credibility. They already know the quality of your work.

Therefore, you don't have to go through the relationship and credibility building stages before these contacts are willing to do business with you or recommend you to others.

Many of the people you already know may be people you haven't spoken with in awhile and most certainly if you are just getting started with your business, they have known you in another context. So how do you begin to develop an active network of these individuals?

Develop a list. Start by developing a list of everyone you have worked for in the past, everyone who has worked for you, and those people you have worked with. If it does not raise legal or ethical issues, consider clients or customers you have worked with in former positions. Include family, friends and associates from other activities that you have participated in such as civic organizations, church or social/hobby groups. Go through your address book, both the one you currently use and any old ones you might have lying around; review membership lists of any organizations you belong to; if you have phone directories for any companies you used to work for or client listings from these companies review those.

Prioritize the list. If you are like most people, your list will probably be pretty long and it may seem like a daunting task to begin reconnecting and re-establishing relationships with those you are no longer in contact with. Prioritize the list with those who are most likely to have a need for your services or know someone who is likely to have a need at the top.

Gather contact information. It is likely that you have lost touch with at least some of the individuals on your list. Who do you have contact information for that might be able to provide you with a current telephone number or e-mail address for someone else on your list? The process of collecting contact information for those you have lost contact with is a great way to begin the process of reconnecting with those on your list that you do know how to reach.

Commit time to the process. Commit a set amount of time each week to re-connect and maintain contact with the people identified above. This is not about making a phone call, shooting off an e-mail or sending out a letter to let these individuals know about your business. It is the process of re-establishing and maintaining relationships with these individuals.

Look for ways that you can assist and support them. Before you make a request for help from the person you are connecting with, think about ways you can be of assistance to them. When you contact someone from your list, especially if it is someone you have not had contact with on an ongoing basis, tell them you want to update them on what you are doing and that you want to find out about what they are doing. Ask them what they need and how you might be of assistance. If appropriate based on your previous relationship, re-connect on a personal level as well as a business level. Ask how the kids are and what they're doing now.

Stay in touch. Networking is about relationships and relationships require ongoing contact and communication. The most effective way to maintain contact is to follow-up with referrals, information, or ideas that you can assist them with. It is not about calling once a month or once a quarter to see if they have any business or any referrals for you.

Don't neglect those lower on your list. Don't overlook those individuals who did not make the top of your list, especially if they are people whom you have or had a strong connection with. These people may be able to assist you (and you may be able to assist them) in ways you never even dreamed of.

Incorporate everyone into your "Rolodex". In this age of computerized address books and PDAs it is easy to maintain an up-to-date address book and carry it with you everywhere you go. You never know when you might be able to provide a referral for one of the members of your network and it is powerful to be able to provide their name and contact information right on the spot. Add them to the mailing list for your newsletter, Holiday Cards, and any other mailings you might do. It's just one more way to maintain ongoing contact.

Focusing on the people you already know to jumpstart your network can be not only profitable but also very enjoyable as you reconnect with old friends and re-establish neglected relationships.

© 2003 Strategies-by-DESIGN. May be reprinted with credits and contact information.

Julie Chance is president of Strategies-by-DESIGN, a Dallas based firm that helps businesses from professional services firms to specialty retailers Map A Path to Success by developing more leads, turning those leads into loyal customers, and obtaining a greater return from their marketing investment. The firm provides marketing consulting, training and skills based coaching. For more information or to sign up for their free marketing tips newsletter go to http://www.strategies-by-design.com< /a> or call 972-701-9311.

Lesson 61 - When Does Aggressiveness Turn Into Annoyance?

The StoryWhen attending conferences, conventions, or private events, it's guaranteed that you will talk with... Read More

You Can?t Spell Networking Without Serendipity

"Fear not to entertain strangers for by so doing some have entertained angels unaware."This quotation... Read More

Work that Room, Baby!

Networking, schmoozing, making connections. Call it what you want, it's something that is a necessity... Read More

Power Networking: Getting Your Name Out There!

Today's economy presents some very special challenges to people who are unemployed, underemployed, or who... Read More

How to Keep from Sounding LIKE Totally Stupid

June is reality check month. Lots of the resolutions have been made and most are... Read More

8 Ways To Develop Confidence In New Situations

Do you enjoy one-on-one networking, however, the thought of walking into room full of people... Read More

Mary Kay Ash Did It Best... (The Networking Factor)

"The Networking Factor, Everyone is important!" This slogan reminds me of another personal credo by... Read More

Networking - How To Do It

Networking is probably the oldest, easiest, most effective and least expensive way to get more... Read More

Follow-Up with Your Contacts

What happens when you meet a potential client at an event and you do not... Read More

Alliances: More Than A One Way Relationship

What is the biggest advantage of forming an alliance?Everyone has their own definition of an... Read More

The Anatomy of a Brain Cramp; The Retainer and the Lavalava - Communication

In life, you have to successfully work with people to get anywhere. You can't avoid... Read More

Should You Offer Commissions For Customer Referrals?

As a small business owner you may find yourself in a situation where you want... Read More

How to be Known

Why business relationships are formed with certain people?If you go to a networking meeting and... Read More

Building Bridges - The Importance of Being Connected Where You Live

As a Young Professional (YP) in the up-and-coming city of Milwaukee, WI, I can tell... Read More

Which Networking Events Should You Attend?

How does one determine which are the best events to attend based on one's best... Read More

10 Steps to Successful Networking

"It's not what you know, it's who you know."This old saying rings true in everything... Read More

Where Does That Word Come From?

"Instead of a handshake, I gave Toby a high-five to break the ice; and when... Read More

Creating Successful Alliances and Partnerships through Networking

Douglas Wilder, former Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the first elected Black Governor... Read More

Getting Leads

How many leads do you pass on?As a reminder, you must give a lot before... Read More

9 Ways to Spice Up Your Nametags for More Engaging Conversation

Nametags are worn for a variety of jobs and functions, but people don't like to... Read More

Flying High, Flying Far

"What me? Sell myself? You have to be joking!"This was the response I received from... Read More

Networking Know How

Networking, even to a seasoned professional, can seem intimidating or scary at times. The reason... Read More

Ten Simple Steps to More Customers with Better Networking

Networking is a great way to meet people in a "non-selling" setting. So, don't sell.... Read More

Social Network Software

My neighbor ? a lovely man I've known, and have had social contact with for... Read More

Measuring Value for a Networking Group

How do you measure a group's worth to your organization?It is sometimes necessary to measure... Read More

Networking: Is Your Approach Too Self-Centered?

It's a classic mistake by networkers: their approach is focused on their own needs rather... Read More

Unforgettable First Impressions Part 3: Time is (Not) On Your Side

You only have three seconds?Connect in under a minute?People decide if they like you within... Read More

Keys to Successful Networking While In Transition

Let's be real. With other pressures of life upon us, having to network can be... Read More

Volunteering for a Networking Group

When is it appropriate to volunteer to take a position in the group?Have you heard... Read More

Come Home Rich - How to Get the Most out of Your Next Conference

Success in your career depends upon how well you manage your professional development. A prime... Read More

Is The Company You Keep Hurting Your Business?

When you look at your friends, it's like looking into a mirror. Take the sum... Read More

Are You in the Relationship Business?

Are you in the relationship business? Of course you are. Everyone who has to work... Read More

How To Make Your Next Networking Event A Success

There are people who are natural born networkers - those people that can make conversation... Read More

Alcohol & Events

Many people associate alcohol with relaxation and fun, so it is an important ingredient for... Read More

Two-Step Your Communication

Ever use someone else to get your message out?For example, big, multi-location companies sometimes make... Read More

Build Your Business through Strategic Networking

Networking ? it's the latest business trend. Or is it?Actually, business owners have always engaged... Read More

The Answer to Your Worst Networking Nightmare

Imagine you just met your ideal client at a networking event. He's friendly, has great... Read More

Are You Building Relationships Online?

How's your relationship?I'm not prying into your personal life, so no need to worry. it's... Read More

Mobile Car Wash Companies; Trading Tips

If you run a mobile car washing firm we recommend trading for as many products... Read More

Business Networking - Common Myths and Realities

Can we agree about the meaning of networking? I don't mean computer networking. For our... Read More

How to Shmooze

Definition: talk idly or casually in a friendly way Value: pricelessGearheads like me have trouble... Read More

Why Cant I Start A Conversation With You?

One out of every ten Americans has a fear of talking to strangers. When you... Read More

Lesson 69 - When Networking Events Fail

The StoryIn a quest to create strategic alliances, coalitions, and partnerships, we don't usually allow... Read More

A New LinkedIn Discussion Forum for High Power Dealmakers

For those of you interested in international business transactions or the business networking organization, LinkedIn,... Read More

Plan for the Event or Flounder

Rather than being there to eat the food and drink the drinks, planning before attending... Read More

How to Collect Business Cards

Why the business card grab is not why you are there? So how do you... Read More

Community Involvement Networking

It is important for you to join at least one service club in your area... Read More

Mother Said - Wash Your Hands

Think health articles are boring? This one isn't, so read on - it may save... Read More

Increase Your Sales by 30% Using Internet Collaboration Networks

Small businesses are really excluded from the global economySmall businesses from many different industries, both... Read More

Have We Met Before? What to Do When You Cant Remember Who Yourre Talking To

You see him from across the room. You know him, but you can't remember how... Read More