So, Where Do I Start?

Many of us who have been networking for a while already have a fairly large tickler file. We never have a hard time filling up our networking time with telephone calls, email messages, coffees, lunches, and even the occasional breakfast. What about those who are just starting out, though? For them, the idea of having to send even one email a day could be pretty stressful since they don’t have anyone on their list to send things to. What should they do?

For those who might find themselves in that situation, let’s make a list. This is just something to get you started until you’re attending those regular networking events that are going to be filling up that tickler file quickly.

OK, so do you have that pen and paper handy (or the electronic equivalent)? Add any names you can think of from the following groups.

  1. Clients and customers. Add from both past and present. Remember these are the folks who liked you so much that they were willing to pay you for your skills and experience. They are a great core of people to use as the core of your network.
  2. Co-workers. Now, if you are an employee, these can be your traditional co-workers or they can be anyone from the company — including your supervisor and your subordinates. If you are an outside contractor, you still have no real excuse not to invite your contact(s) and/or any other contractors out for coffee on occasion.
  3. Friends. Remember that your network is not only for business. When was the last time you got together with a friend to find out more about how you can help them succeed in their lives? Do you even know what their goals are?
  4. Family. Your brother-in-law may always have seemed like a bit of a goof to you, but maybe the guy has some unplumbed depths. Could he use some of your help? Or does he maybe know your next million-dollar client?
  5. People in your address book. There was a reason you put them there in the first place. Go through your previous contacts and anyone where you say “Oh, yeah. That guy. I wonder what he’s doing now?” Put them on the list.
  6. People who’ve sent you email. Look through your old email archives and add in anyone with whom you had a significant or memorable email correspondence.
  7. People in your photo album. These folks will probably be more personal contacts, but anyone whom you can look at in the picture and actually remember their name is probably a good candidate for adding to your list.
According to the old saw, everyone supposedly knows around 250 people who would come to their wedding or funeral. Are all of these folks going to be great networking clients? Maybe not, but you’ll never know until you actually take time to re-acquaint yourself and find out more about them. In the meantime, you’ll have the opportunity to practice your good networking techniques.
And you never know when one of them will turn out to be your goose that lays the golden eggs.
Photo credit: Kevin Jarrett
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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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