Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How To Stay Engaged With Your Virtual Network In three Easy Steps By Malla Haridat

If you are a member of the BOSS network, I’m sure you know already the value of networking.  But how do you continue to engage people after meeting them?  I know I’ve come home from events with a ton of business cards - excited to have met so many great people and wondering how I’m going to stay in contact with allllll of them.  When you factor in networking with all of the other things going on in your business, it can be overwhelming!

So here are three things I do that help me stay engaged.  Each of them is manageable - 15 min max.  And they really help me stay in touch with contacts outside of the first meeting.

Email a LinkedIn contact

I’m sure most of you have a LinkedIn network.  But how many people have you emailed/messaged your network in the past month?

Especially someone that you haven’t spoken to in the past six-nine months.

I started doing this recently.  I made a commitment of contacting two people each month.  People that I haven’t heard from in the past year.  During this past month, one friend shared with me news about a new contract that she won.  We celebrated.  Another friend told me that her business had fallen on hard times and she was looking for work. We started brainstorming employment options, I reached out to someone in my network and we both said some prayers to keep her positive.

Yes, I’m only staying connected with two people at a time in my network.  But isn’t that what networking really is - staying engaged with individuals on a personal level?

Connect with someone in your industry on Twitter

Oh the beast called Twitter.  How do you meet someone you’ve never met in under 140 characters? 

Easy.  Keep sharing something of value for THEM. 

       If you are under 1,000 followers - Pick someone you want to meet in your industry.  Check out Twitter lists like wefollow or other directories to find new experts.
       If you are over 1,000 followers - find someone that has engaged with you who has an interesting profile...and you haven’t spoken directly to them.  

In both examples, don’t ask the person for anything.  Find out some things that interest them - recent news, areas of interest - and share information that will be helpful to THEM.
I’ve done this several times and been pleasantly surprised when person reaches out to me directly.  Often when they connect, we don’t have the awkward “Who are you dance?”  I’ve already learned some things about them and they already get I’m about helping people.  I’ve had contacts e share coupon codes for events, freebies via a link, and the best one - advice on how to handle a situation I was dealing with.  All because I continued to build a relationship by sharing something of value to the other person.

Reach out to the BOSSes

Don’t forget to reach out and meet new BOSSes!

Develop a draft email that shares a little about you and a though provoking question.   For example, I might share- “Hi fellow BOSS member, I am Malla and I am an entrepreneurship coach.  I just recently got back from an industry conference on entrepreneurship education in DC and had a great time networking and meeting others.  What’s the last good industry event that you attended?”

In your intro email, share something interesting about yourself and think of a good topic that offers insight into the other person. 

(And by the way, if anyone wants to connect with me, feel free to tweet me and tell me about the last good industry event you attended.  I’m always interested in finding out what good things people are doing!)

You need to be open to not hearing a response from everyone.   But just like sales, some will, some won’t, so what because there is always someone waiting.  Overtime, I’m sure you will find some great new people in your network by trying this technique.

I hope you found these helpful.  I would be interested to hear how well they work for you and/or if you have other strategies you could share for engaging with your virtual network.

To Find Out More About Malla Haridat Follower Her @MallaHaridat

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