The most critical element of maintaining contact and building relationships with a network is to touch people as many time as practical using as many ways as possible—from emails to blogs to newsletters to social media to phone calls to face-to-face meetings. Here are some ways to maintain contact with a network that we know, from our own experience, work:
1. Publish a networking calendar.
We’ve created the Canright Calender, a list of networking events in Chicago for executives, marketers, entrepreneurs, and innovators that we consider attending, and send it by email each week. It’s become the thing we do that people comment on and appreciate the most, building goodwill for our firm. We also run into people we know at events we would not have known they would be interested in, but they read about the event in our networking email and come. Several other people do the same thing, and we list their calendars at the bottom of our weekly Canright Featured Event emails and posts.
2. Send a regular enewsletter.
The key word is “regular,” which is a synonym for “consistent.” The content is, of course, the news business thrived for years on familiarity and punctuality, and those qualities are still required to make an impression. We seek to make our enewsletter personal through our staff media recommendations–they’re the more commented on and read portions of every issue of Canright Communicates.
3. Solicit comments for your blog.
In writing our White Paper Basics report, we posted a link with a request for comments on the topic on LinkedIn and sent a request for comments in emails both to people we knew well and people we hardly knew at all, as a way of “crowdsourcing” information. We posted the feedback on our blog and incorporated it into our report.
4. Distribute articles through social networks and media.
We wrote a summary of recent research in the payments market as part of a promotion surrounding the SIBOS 2009 Conference. We emailed the article to contacts we thought might be interested, posted the article on LinkedIn groups and the SWIFT payments community, and even wrote an article about the article in ourAugust 2009 newsletter. LinkedIn became the top referral source to our blog.
5. Continue the “old-fashioned” ways.
The telephone still works as well as it did when the Bell System advertised in LIFE magazine “You could never without a telephone” in 1953, though most people believe that email gets more response. I regularly call frequent readers of our enewsletters and people who register for our white paper report to see what their interests are and whether we can help with their marketing.
I aim to meet with people in person. Indeed, in-person meetings—off-line connections, if you will—remain the goal of most network contacts. Perhaps it’s a predictable backlash to connecting online or to continuing travel restrictions, but Hyatt Hotels is using the slogan, “Great Happens When People Get Together” for its current meetings and events promotion.