Creating a Networking System
Yesterday, you learned about how to help others by using the Connector’s Toolbox. Most of the time, the people who need help are already in your network; you just need to reconnect with them. This lesson will show you how to create a Network Tracker to track your connecting efforts.
Why You Need a Network Tracker and How to Make It Effective
Like it or not, you can’t remember everything. Odds are, you’re going to forget to send a life update to a critical mentor or fail to return a call from a friend. However, as research on cellular networks shows, persistence in reconnecting with others is important for building long-lasting relationships.
There are three keys to creating an effective Network Tracker:
1. It should allow you to track when you last spoke to a person, as well as notes from the meeting that you need to follow up on.
2. It should integrate reminders of when to speak to the person next so you don’t procrastinate or forget.
3. It should be easy to use. You should be able to access the Network Tracker with a few clicks, and it should have minimal friction points.
Building a Simple Network Tracker
I’ve created a basic Network Tracker as an example for your reference (here it is). Feel free to make a copy and adapt it as you see fit. As you can see, the spreadsheet has fields for basic contact info with a few added improvements:
Depth of relationship. Tracking the depth of your relationships with different connections can help you spot opportunities for strengthening poor relationships. It can also remind you of meaningful relationships to work on sustaining. I recommend using this four-part scale from Mike Steib’s The Career Manifesto:
• Unfamiliar: A stranger, possibly someone you’ve read about, seen around the office, or heard friends mention.
• Familiar: An acquaintance you’ve spoken with a few times. Conversations have likely stuck to small-talk. You’re not sure you could ask this person for a favor.
• Intimate: You have met this person multiple times, or have worked with them. You share information with each other and are willing to help each other out. Your trust in them has limits, but you feel comfortable being candid about some things.
• Meaningful: You know what makes this person tick and have a keen awareness of their motivations, fears, strengths, and weaknesses. You trust in your relationship enough to be honest, even if it means saying something they may not want to hear. You can always count on each other.
P.S. – In my conversation course, I will explain how to advance from unfamiliar to meaningful relationships. Make sure to enroll in my conversation course after you finish the networking course.
How did I meet them? It’s important to track how you met people. Was it due to your own initiative? Or were you introduced by a friend? Eventually, a pattern will emerge, and you’ll see if one of your connections is frequently facilitating introductions for you. This means you have the great fortune of knowing a true connector. Also, it will become apparent if your network is heavily biased toward certain career paths, work habits, locations, etc. A network that’s too homogenous puts your learning opportunities and career growth at risk (more on this later).
To whom have I introduced this person? Have you paid it forward by trying to introduce this person to someone who can be of service? You want to make sure you’re helping people along their path and keeping track of whether you’re connecting too many people to one of your contacts. You don’t want to overwhelm your network.
Date of and days since last contact. This allows you to track how long it’s been since you last spoke to the person. You don’t want your critical connections to atrophy due to a lack of contact.
What does this person need? During your last interaction with this person, they probably mentioned what they are doing or what they are after. Take note of this so you can help them out if you come across what they need.
Tasks. During the meeting, you either promised your friend that you would do something or your friend recommended something for you to do. Following through demonstrates that you listened to the person and valued their time. If someone provides you with their valuable time and you don’t follow through, odds are, that person won’t help you again.
Do I owe this person a thank you note? Did you thank this person for their time and let them know you appreciate their help? Later on, we will learn how to write a great thank you note.
When you begin entering people into the Network Tracker, you would include important people in your life that you don’t see on a regular basis (family, friends, and former colleagues). It might feel weird to add family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues to your connection tracker, but I’d much rather do this than risk falling out of touch with people who are important to me. Think of a Network Tracker as an assistant to help you stay in touch with those you care about in your life. But remember, it will take time to complete this list, so don’t try to do it all in one day. You may also consider importing your LinkedIn connection data into your Network Tracker. Also, make sure to update your tracker regularly.
Now that you have made a Network Tracker, tomorrow, we will learn what Network Bridge is.
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