It is wonderful to network by using contacts you have met only on-line as well as those from the real world. The world is getting smaller and smaller as technology enables us to meet people from around the world on-line and travel gets easier and easier in the real world. As we meet more and more people with whom we would like to maintain relationships, networking becomes increasingly important.
Normally the term networking is used to describe a situation under which two or more people with common interests who support one another share information and services. Due to the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and the like, many people have a network of people they know only in the virtual world. In my own life, I started a business with two women I know only on-line. We will be meeting in person later this year, by then our business will be eight months old! People who work at home, are sole proprietors or naturally shy may find that social networking allows them to build a network of people who will provide support, friendship and opportunities to smile at a convenient time and in a convenient place aka whenever you want on your smart phone, tablet or laptop computer.
In the real world there are more ways to meet people than this article has room to explore. This is the place where traditional networking takes place - the real world. We meet people, get their business card, write down their phone numbers or type their contact information into our electronic device of choice. No matter whether the contact is an on-line contact or a real world contact it is important that we maintain the relationship and not let the contact wither on the vine so to speak. Here are a few ways you can build or maintain a relationship with your contacts:
- contact day
- clip list
- social media groups
- text message
- computer video chats
- quick call
Contact day - start a list of people you want to maintain a relationship. Create an actual list so that in one place you have the name, address (physical or e-mail) and phone number of people with whom you want to make sure you maintain a relationship. It is important to have all the contacts on-line and real world all in one place so you can go through the contact steps all at one time, all in one place. Next pick one day per month as your contact day and on that day reach out to those on your contact list. Reach out to the people on your contact list via email, telephone or by good old-fashioned hand written letter.
Clip list - as you read magazines on your tablet device or surf the internet, if you find an article that will be of interest to someone on your contact list clip it and save it to give to that person. I use a clipping program for Evernote that lets me save web pages to an Evernote file I have created. Then I can send the "clip" via email right from my Evernote program in a matter of seconds. If you send your contacts timely, relevant and useful information, they will like hearing from you and look forward to receiving your messages.
Social Media Groups - this is a great way to stay in contact with and maintain a relationship with on-line contacts. An amazing amount of networking, job referring, support and advice takes place via social media groups. My favorite social media group, Pushing Lovely on Facebook amazes me each day with the support, advice and encouragement that members provide to each other. It is particularly amazing because this is a group of women that meets mainly on via Facebook updates.
Text Messages - this is a great method of contact for people who are shy or have a lot of people to contact. With text messaging you are able to send a short message of encouragement, support or advice to a contact in seconds and a response is not needed. In mere minutes, you are able to send quick text messages on any subject to dozens of people and thus keep in contact with ease.
Computer video chats - the availability of technological advances and programs like Skype and Google+ hangouts it is very easy to talk with people and see their faces. This is a great method of communication and helps build and develop relationships. These programs make it easy and inexpensive to see a person you are speaking with and is much easier to arrange than an airplane ride across the country.
Quick call - never forget the value of hearing someone's voice on the telephone. For people of my generation, a telephone used to be for talking and not just texting. It is still nice and appropriate to make a telephone call to stay in touch with people on your contact list.
In conclusion, it is wonderful to network with people you know in the real world and those you know only on-line. When we think of our personal and professional networks, we must increasingly look for more and creative ways to maintain connections with those who are important to us or whom we want to be important to us. So, the question for you this wonderful day is how do you network?