When it comes to networking, quantity does not always equal quality.
While more LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends may appear to be a good thing, it is counterproductive when you have to deep dive through your contacts to find the name of someone.
What you need is a proven and simple-to-execute system to retrieve a specific contact when you need it.
In this article, I will share 5 ways to organize your network. We will cover the best methods to identify contacts who you would like to re-engage with and I’ll introduce you to awesome tools that will help you streamline accessing specific people in your network.
Whether you're a busy professional or a student looking to make some new connections, read on, and make your networking journey a breeze, I have you covered!
2023 is the Right Time to Declutter
The Chinese New Year 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. It represents longevity, prosperity, and good luck. Rabbits breed quickly and can lead to exponential population growth.
Similarly, networking can easily mimic a rabbit, and more so in 2023, as people return to the workplace after a long Pandemic. Your contacts and connections can quickly multiply and grow out of control.
"The most important thing is to find a purpose for the things in your life." - Marie Kondo
How to get Started
Start by writing down your list of buckets or pods into which your contacts will be organized. Examples of buckets are:
- Family & Friends
- Professors/University Faculty & Staff
- Potential clients
- Referral partners
This list is by no means comprehensive. I provide it just to help you get the creative juices flowing. A high-level list like this gives purpose to your contacts and to your list. It allows you to easily remember their value offering - whether to you or to others as a referral.
If you would like more support on this initial step, grab a call with me and I’d be happy to train your team on implementing an organized CRM or contact list for greater success.
When decluttering, it's important to start small and focus on one area at a time. Make this a project and put it in your project management tool right now.
- Set a timer for 30-60 minutes to review as many people in your network in the allotted time.
- Identify which contacts are truly good connections and who is most important to your business or interests.
- I’m never the person to say "get rid of people."
- Don’t throw business cards out (Use your phone to scan them into Zoho, Evernote, or another contact system).
- Unless there has been something egregious, there is no reason to disconnect your profile from theirs.
- Focus on re-engaging with your best contacts in an authentic and thoughtful way.
When we organize our contacts into small groups, we can improve our instantaneous knowledge of who we know, how we know them, why we want to be connected with them, what they do, and how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Stay In Touch
It's common to collect business cards and add people to your network, but it's more difficult, albeit important, to actually follow up and nurture those relationships.
Once you've grouped your contacts, you can set reminders to reach out to certain contacts or use a CRM tool to automate these messages.
There are many client relationship management (CRM) tools available. Some I like to recommend are Zoho CRM, KarmaCRM, and Insightly CRM. I’ve used them in the past and found them extremely useful in helping me organize, maintain, nurture, and automate communication with my relationships. CRMs allow you to store and organize contact information, schedule follow-up reminders, and track your interactions with contacts.
It's important to re-engage with your network on a consistent basis to keep feeding the relationship. Reach out to your contacts, ask about their recent work and projects, and share your own. This is a great way to build and maintain connected relationships that are built on more than professional formalities.
When you find that someone is no longer adding value to your network, it's okay to let them go or re-engage with them in a different way, with a different purpose.
Here is the quick list of steps you need to take to effectively declutter your network.
Steps to Declutter Your Network
- Review your contacts: Take a moment to review all of your contacts and identify which ones you value and appreciate.
- Group your contacts: Organize your contacts into different categories or groups that make sense to you. Tools like Zoho, Karma, or Insightly, can let you ‘tag’ someone so you can search for them.
- Set reminders to stay in touch: Set reminders to reach out to certain contacts or use a CRM tool to automate this task. These tools will help you stay organized and maintain your relationships.
- Re-engage and nurture your network: Reach out to your contacts and re-engage with them, ask about their recent work and projects, and share your own.
- Keep your network relevant: Keep your network relevant to your current goals, if someone is not adding value to your network it is time to let them go, but you can keep the door open for future opportunities.
If you would like to train yourself or your team on how to make the most of your network relationships, let’s talk! Book a call with me here.
Please consider sharing with your network!
Diane Darling is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. See Diane in action and learn more about her topics here. McGraw-Hill published her books, The Networking Survival Guide and Networking for Career Success, now in 9 languages. She published, "She Said It: A collection of quotes by remarkable women."
P.s. If you’d like to explore your artistic side, join Diane on LinkedIn Live this Saturday, February 4th at 12 noon EST for a conversation with Nicola Blakemore who teaches people how to watercolor.