With all the talk of tickler files, scorecards, and the rules of networking, some might get the feeling that networking is no fun at all. Heck, with all this drudgery, you might as well be making (shudder) cold calls. Well, I would like to introduce you to my wife, Lisa, who, with her executive assistant, Beth, has come up with a way to make networking more like a game.

We call it “Word of the Week Networking”.

The game is designed to help move people from your contact list or address book into your tickler file where you can begin having regular contact with them. My wife, while a great networker, is just starting to use some more structured approaches to cultivating her connections.

So, here’s how to play:

  1. Once a week, select a five-letter word at random (or six or four or however many people you want to add to your tickler file). You can just pick one out of the air, or you could open a book to a random page and select a word at random from there. Whatever works for you.
  2. Using the letters from your word, select the first name from your contact list where the first letter of their last name begins with the letter in question. Choose a name not on your tickler list already. If none exist, then look at the first name instead, etc.
  3. You must now contact each person on your list of five. You must use a different mechanism for each one. You can use email, phone, handwritten note, LinkedIn recommendation, Facebook message, Twitter DM, comment on their blog, send them an article, a small box of chocolates, a telegram, morse code, or smoke signals. Use your imagination and have fun with it.
  4. Only after you have contacted them do you get to decide whether to put them on your tickler list. Remember, though, your most profitable ambassadors can come from the most unexpected places.

This “game” has a variety of benefits. Of course, just by making these re-connections, you are strengthening your network. You are also building your networking “muscle”. You’ll often have to connect with someone whom you don’t remember too well.  How are you going to find out enough about them to have a reasonably personal message? Hint: It rhymes with “frugal”. It also forces you to call on people whom you might otherwise have skipped over.

So, give Word of the Week Networking a try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other tricks and games that will encourage you to continue with your networking efforts.  If you do come up with something that works for you, please send me a message. If I get enough response, maybe I will compile them all into an e-book so that everyone can join in the fun.