Nurturing relationships is the best way to grow your network. But it can be difficult to find the time, and it can be hard to know what to do.
Here are 3 principles for nurturing relationships.
1. Focus on nurturing relationships by adding value.
One important principle of nurturing relationships is adding value. If you want to be a valued partner in your network, build a reputation as a contributor.
Think of different ways to add value to your network.
One way to add value is to provide curated information. There’s a lot of information out there, and sourcing and sharing great content saves your network time. Develop a niche where you can become a subject matter expert. Consider how you will share content – mix individual communication with social sharing and group emails. You might even start a newsletter!
You can also add value by making connections. Figure out which people in your network need to meet each other. The best way to do this is to truly understand each person’s goals. Who are their ideal clients? What problems are they trying to solve? Imagine being the go-to person when someone is looking to make a connection.
Another way to add value is to invite people to events. These can be events you’re producing, such as happy hours or learning events, or they can be events you attend. The better you know people in your network, the better you will know what to invite them to.
Nurturing relationships through adding value is the best way to build a good reputation in your network.
2. Make personal connections with people in your network.
The best way to nurture relationships is to make personal connections with people. If you share interests, you’ll always have something to talk about.
When you are first getting to know people, work to identify shared interests. Keep track of these in your CRM system, and review them before you meet with people. Eventually this will become automatic. Whenever you think of hockey you’ll reach out to your fellow fans, and if you hear about an opera benefit you’ll invite your arts friends.
Shared interest in charity is a great way to connect with people and give back to your community. There’s a special bond you develop when you’re working together for a good cause.
3. Develop a process for nurturing relationships.
While nurturing relationships is an art, it’s also a process. We all struggle with time management, and this can fall off your radar if you don’t have a process.
First, establish how much time you have for nurturing relationships. This will likely vary, so develop monthly plans. Block out time for networking. Some of this time should be during business hours, and some will likely be before or after.
Next, develop a plan for your communication method. Each person in your network likely has a preferred method of communication, so work to get to know them. Some people might prefer to talk on the phone, while others like to text or email.
In addition to people’s preferences, make sure you have a variety of ways you communicate with your network. Balance phone calls and emails, and consider your mix of individual and group emails. Make sure you’re regularly scheduling in-person meetings with key people in your network.
I hope these ideas are helpful as you focus on nurturing relationships to grow your network.
For more strategies for building relationships, check out our eBook.