With networking forming such a critical component to your professional success, maintaining those connections you do forge is more important than ever. It can be difficult trying to balance maintenance of a contact and not being annoying. However, striking that balance is well worth the effort and essential for your long-term success. To that end we have compiled a brief guide detailing how to maintain a successful relationship.
Exploit Social Media
Facebook and LinkedIn are powerful networking tools that should not be neglected. They allow you to remind a contact that you’re still interested in maintaining that relationship without directly saying it. This part does not have to be complicated. An occasional comment on their Facebook posts along with the periodic likes and shares will keep your name on their screen and in their mind.
Schedule Time to Catch Up
When it comes to those important contacts – such as mentors or important clients – make sure to set aside time to regularly catch up. A simple phone call or e-mail can be enough, face to face meetings are time consuming and should generally only be used if there is a legitimate business purpose. There are times when you should have an in-person meeting with your connections, but that is for a different section.
It is up to you to find a balance between being annoying and catching up – you know these people better than we do. Usually it doesn’t take more than one outreach every couple months, and using contact management applications like Covve can help you remember to take this step. The last thing you want is to lose a connection for a year and then type an e-mail hoping the other person remembers who you are.
Plan Group Get-Togethers
Eventually, having a face to face meet up is important to make sure a relationship stays alive. However, scheduling time for everybody can quickly become a daunting task, and if you and the other person have changed enough that meeting can be awkward when you realize you have nothing to discuss. To mitigate this, plan a get-together for a group of your contacts: say former co-workers or business partners, and have everybody get together at once. This saves time because you’ve put in your face time with people all in one place, and it means if you aren’t able to talk to somebody easily you avoid the awkward silence that results.
Know When to Back Off
One of the most important lessons is knowing when to back off. This can be tricky – people and schedules change over time, and a person that once had a lot of free time now scarcely has room to breathe. This is when those periodic e-mails can help, as the delay in response or lack of response can tell you exactly how much time they have to spare. Don’t press somebody too hard and know when to wait for them to get back to you. Nothing will irritate somebody more than being spammed with messages by a person they haven’t spoken with in weeks.
Remember: Your Contacts are People
Regardless of why the connection is formed, the most important thing to remember about these connections is that they are people first and foremost. Be ready to take a step back every so often and examine why you are talking to them in the first place. Appearing self-interested can quickly get on a person’s nerves, and treating them as merely a means to an end is the best way to alienate a person.
So, regardless of what techniques you employ to maintain a connection, make sure you keep the fact that you are talking to a person at the forefront of your mind. If you do this, new methods of keeping in touch will come to mind and may even allow a simple business relationship to flourish into a friendship.