You can’t network with everyone; that would quickly become overwhelming. Instead, prioritize and determine who is most important to your professional success. In this video, Dorie walks you through the process of prioritizing your network, including how to: identify the most important 10, 50, and 100 contacts in your network; develop a realistic outreach strategy to keep in touch with them; and periodically reevaluate your strategy to ensure you’re getting the results you want.
- How many people are you connected with on social media? Hundreds? Thousands? Just try networking with all of them. It's kind of an insane thought, and I hope you don't try, because you wouldn't have all that time to devote to real relationship building. It's just too big of a task. That's why it's essential to prioritize your networking. You have to be strategic about how you use your time. In this video, I'm gonna help you learn how to prioritize the contacts most essential to your professional success. Check out the exercise file for a template to help you get started.
Let's start by focusing on the people you know, and it's important to narrow it down to a limited number. I suggest thinking in terms of your top 10, your top 50, and your top 100. You'll obviously wanna devote more time and energy to your top 10 as compared to the others on your list. So who should be on it? Think about people who can make a real difference to your professional future. These could be current or past clients, prospective clients, recommenders, people in your company who are critical to your promotional chances, mentors or sponsors, friends who are connectors, or even people in the media.
Next, block out an hour or so to review your list of contacts. Maybe you keep your contacts in your email account or on your phone, or maybe you use specialized software. It doesn't really matter. For these purposes, just go old-fashioned. Scroll through the list of names, and on a sheet of paper or a basic spreadsheet, jot down the names of people that should fall into your top 10, top 50, or top 100 list. Now, think about the ways you can keep in touch with people. It could be through emails, phone calls, or even actual postal mail, or it could be in person, whether that's one-on-one or in groups.
Look at your calender and mark out time to connect with your top contacts. The specifics will vary, but it should be something that's realistic for you. For instance, if you have a long commute, you could plan to call at least one person in your top 100 per day on your ride home to check in. That means that at least three times a year, you'll have reached out to someone important to you. Not bad. Or you might try to schedule a one-on-one coffee each week with someone on your top 10 list. That means that approximately every quarter, you'll be personally connecting with them.
Both are very doable if you choose to make the time. Finally, it's essential to periodically reevaluate your strategy. Every three months, it's worth making a note in your calendar to take even just a half hour to look at your overall networking strategy. Is it working the way you want? Do you feel you're connecting with the right people and deepening your relationships? Some questions to ask yourself include, is there anyone I've met in the past three months who's worth adding to my list? Maybe there's a new potential client that you'd like to get to know better.
Is there anyone who should drop from the list? Of course you can still continue to be friends with people and hang out with them socially, but if, for instance, they've retired or switched jobs and are no longer working in a relevant industry, you may not need to be so focused on networking with them professionally. And another question is, am I spending my time on the right activities? If you started out with a plan to call one person on your list each day to say hello, but decided you actually hate talking on the phone, that's okay.
What's important is the overall focus on networking, not the specific mechanism. Instead, you can adjust and spend more time sending check-in emails or meeting up in person. If you're going to network efficiently and have the energy to keep it up, you have to prioritize. First, identify the people that matter the most to you. Then, develop a plan to keep in touch with them. And every three months, look back and reflect. How's your strategy working for you and should it be refined? Those are the secrets to prioritizing your contacts.
- Prioritizing contacts
- Building meaningful connections
- Managing your time
- Hosting networking events
- Networking on social media