Share what you are doing.
Part of maintaining yourself in the minds of your network is to share what you are working on right now. Let them know what you are doing. Let them get excited for you. Maybe they can even connect you with the resources you need to be more successful.
Sometimes I have a hard time following my own advice.
To correct my misstep, I’m going to share the progress I’m making on my next project — writing my second book. You’ll get to see some early drafts and artwork as I go along.
The book may not be coming out until next year sometime, but you’ll get a taste of where we’re going. Enjoy!
Imagine the following conversation between Bob and Sally. The two of them have met at a networking event and have been chatting for five minutes or so. Sally’s beginning to get the impression that Bob might be a good, professional connection. Yay!
Bob: So, Sally, I’ve been having a great time chatting with you.
Sally: Me, too!
Bob: Great! So, before we go on, I have a quick question for you.
Bob: What kind of car do you drive?
Sally: Um, a Malibu?
Bob: Hey, that’s a great car! So, I need to head down to Toledo tonight. Can I borrow your car?
Sally: Uhhh. I don’t think so.
Bob: Oh, OK. So what were we talking about?
Sally: You know? I don’t remember. Oh, darn! I’m really sorry, but I need to cut our conversation short. My cat needs an emergency whiskerectomy.
Cut to an image of a dust cloud as Sally heads for the door at top speed.
Here’s the thing. Sally probably has people in her life to whom she would lend the car. They are probably close friends or family. She did not develop those relationships through five-minute conversations, once a month, talking about the weather. Those relationships come from a lot of shared experience over time.
Now, put yourself in Sally’s place. You probably would have had the same response, right? I mean, you probably wouldn’t lend your car to someone after knowing them for only five minutes. That said, ask yourself the following question:
Which do you value more, your car or your reputation?
I hope you didn’t have to think too hard about that one. I mean, a damaged car can be repaired or replaced. A damaged reputation, though? Not so easily made new again. We value our reputation more than any material object.
OK, assuming that was true for you and you would be unwilling to lend me your car after a five minute conversation, why would you lend me your reputation after that same amount of time?
Most of the things we want from the people in our network involves them putting their reputation on the line for us. If you recommend me to your Industry Association to speak at the next annual conference and I go in and stink up the place, certainly, that will damage my reputation — as it should. Unfortunately for you, my poor performance can also stain your reputation.
This is why people are justifiably reluctant to pass referrals to you if they just met you. They need to know that you are going to take good care of their good name. Really, the only way to reassure them is if you are willing to put in the effort to develop your relationship with them — to show them through your actions over time, that they can trust you.