Cultivating and Nurturing Your Professional Network


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Cultivating and Nurturing Your Professional Network
If you are responsible for sales, "Your Network Is Your Net Worth"


It's not about the sheer number of followers or acquaintances you have, both offline and online. While having a high follower count on social media may give you the status of an influencer, it's not a true measure of a professional network.

As a professional, particularly in sales, your network comprises people you've met at different places, events, and meetings. However, without diligent upkeep, these relationships can fade over time. It's crucial for professionals, especially those in sales, to nurture these relationships and keep them active.

Merely exchanging business cards or having a one-off meeting won't yield any substantial benefits. Without a strong relationship, people are unlikely to share valuable referrals with you. In an attempt to forge such bonds, many professionals continuously send emails and messages, pitching their services or asking for leads. Unfortunately, such approaches often come across as spam, leading many to hesitate before connecting with sales or business development professionals on platforms like LinkedIn.

Keeping a network active involves adding value to your relationships. People are more inclined to connect when they perceive a benefit. Nobody wants to engage only to provide referrals. Contributing value may seem challenging, but there are ways to do it. People typically connect with others for business or sales opportunities, to gather information about competing companies, or to learn from industry experts. While you might have similar motives, there are other ways to add value and create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Being supportive is an excellent starting point. People appreciate validation and constructive feedback. You can also offer assistance by connecting your contacts with resources they need. For example, if someone in your network needs a lawyer, you could introduce them to a lawyer within your network. This way, you're helping two contacts simultaneously and creating value. By consistently being helpful and expecting nothing in return, you are likely to receive valuable business referrals in the future.

Sharing job openings, business opportunities, or interesting projects with your network is another way to add value. Your contacts will likely appreciate the gesture and reciprocate when possible.

However, providing value alone is not enough to sustain a network. Keeping relationships active is vital, and this can be done through regular meetings. Attending events frequently, particularly those that align with your industry, is an excellent way to keep in touch with contacts and deepen relationships.

Face-to-face meetings, such as casual coffee chats, are essential and should be held regularly. While the immediate outcome may not seem significant, these meetings foster trust and can lead to your contacts becoming advocates for your services.

Organizing small events or reaching out to contacts when attending industry events can also be fruitful. Catching up with contacts at industry conferences, webinars, or social events is an effective way to reinforce your relationships.

Finally, authenticity is critical in maintaining a network. Be genuinely interested in your contacts' success and maintain your authenticity. Additionally, being a good listener often yields better results than constantly trying to sell your ideas or services.

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