How to manage your network – maintaining and nurturing relationships
In one of our previous blogs, we covered some ways in which you can build your network. But after you have begun to build and establish these relationships, how do you maintain them?
In this blog, Kim Casey – Curriculum Consultant and Mentor at Digital Innovators – delves into how he approaches this matter, coming from over 30+ years of practicing it.
Networking is a key skill that has many facets to it. In the simplest terms, it refers to the number of relationships that you have created with others and the benefits which emerge for both parties of the relationship as it is developed over time.
So, once you have established relationships within your network, how do you go about maintaining them?
There are many ways to do this, but one exercise I use is called the circle of influence. You might be wondering what I mean by that… Well, if you were to draw a small circle in the middle of a landscape piece of paper and write your name inside it, you will have started your own circle of influence.
Then all you need to do is add a circle around the centre for each relationship you have created – these relationships can be both personal and professional. One by one, your circle of influence will grow and on this piece of paper, you will have written the people who most affect your life, professionally or personally. I would recommend using two different sheets to separate the two areas of your life.
But what is the point of drawing these circles of influence? For me, the reasons are…
- By marking down the most influential people in my life, I have a visual representation of the network I have created, and I never lose sight of what is important to me.
- I can also regularly check each page and make sure I take actions to keep each relationship alive, healthy, and thriving.
- Additionally, in times of need, I can refer to these circles to see where is best to seek help.
Try it out yourself!
Now you’ve read what I think about this exercise and how it helps me keep on top of my networking, why not try it out yourself? Click here to download “The Circle of Influence” worksheet where you can mark down the various relationships you wish to maintain.
Tip: If you were to tackle every connection you have made through your networking, you might find yourself with a very overcrowded piece of paper.
So, when making your circle of influence, it might be useful to categorise your connections. Some potential categories could be: professional development, personal interest or commercial interest.
Think about your connections, the categories they might fall into, and how you would go about prioritising them – then you will have the relationships most important to you in your circles.
Of course, outlining and acknowledging the relationships you want to maintain is only half the journey. Once you’ve identified this, however, you will then be able to take action, and here are some suggestions of how.
- Have any of your connections shared any good news online lately? Make sure you are cheering them on, say congratulations!
- If it has been awhile since you were last in contact with someone, send them a message or ask to go for a coffee (I’m sure they will be eager to after over a year of zoom catch-ups).
- If you see something that reminds you of them – an article, a poster, anything – why not send it to them? Sometimes little gestures like that can make someone’s day!
These are broad examples which can applied to both your professional and personal networks, but the overall point is that small, regular actions can go a long way to maintain and nurture a relationship, so that when the time comes, both parties are able to ask for help, advice or whatever it is they are looking for!
So, there you have it! Kim’s top tips for maintaining and nurturing relationships within your network.