We’ve talked already about some of the areas where writing can help in networking. In particular, testimonials and Gratitude Notes can do a lot to deepen an existing relationship. Now let’s think about a different kind of writing. This one is just as complimentary, but mainly because of its venue. In this case it’s the practice of mentioning them in a newsletter or other public information source.
As with any other type of written piece about them, whatever you say must be a sincere representation of your perceptions of them. If you write about them merely mention their name without a true belief as to the value of their cause, business, or practices, that lack of sincerity will shine through in every line you type — doing you and your relationship more harm than good.
Done with sincerity, however, a written public piece has a number of benefits. First, it acts as a kind of testimonial. After all, you aren’t going to write about someone who you don’t care about or don’t want to see succeed. Next, it probably highlights some aspect of that person about which they are proud — giving them some external validation for their actions. Finally, it quite often means that you’ve spent some extra time with them to find out more about them and to make sure you’ve gotten the details right.
The question arises then: What should I write about and where can I do it? Let’s look at a few ideas.
Do you belong to a group or association with a newsletter? Chances are whoever is in charge of it is always looking for content. Offer to write a regular “Member Spotlight” column. Who wouldn’t like to have a half-page article written about them? If your association doesn’t have a newsletter, you could always offer to start one.
If you blog about a particular topic, you might pick someone in your network to talk about how they apply “best practices” in your topic of interest. Of course, in the article you can mention their business or any other aspect of their life which supports or relates to their exemplary behavior.
You can even use their own words if you want. If you have a regular venue, electronic or “dead tree” edition, asking someone to contribute an article allows them to voice their opinion, to publish at least the information about them and their business as readers would expect in a short bio (usually with a link to more information), and gives them recognition as an expert in the topic. Giving them that opportunity is likely to bump you up a notch in their book. One of the easiest ways to do this would be if you read something that they wrote that you like, ask them for permission to reprint it in your venue.
I’m sure I’ve neglected some other options of using the written word to strengthen your relationships. The big thing to remember is that at the bottom of it all, you must follow this practice with a sincere high regard for this person and what they do. If you think about it, you are holding this person up as a hero in your estimation — which says almost as much about you as about them.
Photo credit: stock.xchng user lucasrag