It was time.

Or at least my wife said it was time — time to update my office. Of course, being a guy, I saw nothing wrong with the mish-mash of hand-me-down furniture and cheap particle board shelves I had been using for the last twenty years. I mean, everything worked (mostly). Why did I need to change?

Then after far too many trips to IKEA, I understood. Now, sitting in my professional office, I feel exactly like that — a professional. I’ve even noticed I’m more productive. Not surprising as we chose many of the pieces specifically to support my various business tasks.

So what does that have to do with networking? Just this: What my new office did for my productivity in my business activities, updating your networking infrastructure can do for your effectiveness in your connection activities. Here are a few ideas on updates you might make:

  1. Business card. Do you have one? Is all the information up to date? If you cringe every time someone asks, you might need to pay attention.
  2. Clothing. I’m not saying you have to buy a whole new wardrobe, but maybe one or two pieces are looking worn or don’t fit well anymore. Replace them. You’ll be surprised how much more confident you are when you feel you look good.
  3. Business card holder. At least have one to hold your cards — never those that you collect. If you want, though, you might splurge a little to get a nice-looking one.
  4. Phone. When I’m not actually face-to-face with others, I’m often on the phone with them. A good phone with a headset makes me feel more comfortable and better able to connect voice-to-voice.
  5. Your contact list. Connect, reconnect, and retire. Over time, your address book gets a little out of date. Take some time to go through your list in small pieces. Connect with those who are current. Reconnect with those you’ve lost track of. Retire those whom you can’t reach or who don’t respond. You’ll be amazed at how much more free you feel when you know everyone in your contact list is someone who would welcome your call.

Take a little time to update and upgrade your networking systems. You’ll feel more on top of those connections that you value and be ready to make new ones for the future. Who knows? You might even find someone who needs your help — and is willing to pay for it!

What other areas might you improve to make yourself a more effective or professional networker?