How do you manage your network of friends, professional contacts and other acquaintances? Maybe a better question isn’t how, but simply do you? And if not, should you start?
Social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and others allow us to maintain our networks and stay in touch with those that are important (or not-so-important) to us. But, is simply having them as friends/contatcs/etc. enough? What do you do when you need your network?
First, start now – before you need them. If you only maintain frienships (real or virtual) and contacts to use when you need them, your friends will see through that. Better – be their friend when they need one.
Second, know who is who. Some of your on-line contacts are just that, on-line contacts. When you find yourself job-hunting in the fall, they’ll be happy to say, “Good luck!” However, they may not be in a position to do much more.
Third, maintain the relationship! This one is key. Know when their birthday is and be sure to drop them a line. Schedule a regluar lunch with each contact, e.g. every other month. See how things are going and if they need your help for anything.
Finally, keep track! It doesn’t help if you don’t know anything about your friends. It’s okay to write down things like birthdays and anniversaries. People actually did that in the pre-FaceBook era, ya’ know. I like to use contacts in my home MS Outlook program, but there are lots of other options you can use. Yes, even paper works.
Should you manage your network? Yes. Can yoo depend on automated systems to do it for you. Sure, if you’re happy with a network of automated replies from your automated contacts. If you don’t care enough to keep up with them and help when they need you, can you really expect anyone to be there for you? Even if it’s just someone to share a beer with during the big game…