This is the time of year when we make new year’s resolutions. Maybe you will join millions of others and resolve to become more fit and/or lose weight. Maybe you will resolve to spend more time with your loved ones. Or maybe your resolution will be job-related. Here are some items to consider that can improve your networking:
1. Include networking in your resolutions. This might not be the first item that comes to mind for how to improve yourself, but it can make a big difference in your career. You never know how your friends and contacts will be able to help you this year or in the future (or how you can help them). Why not get to know them better? Perhaps your resolution could be to find a mentor and build that relationship.
2. Start with small steps. When you resolve to be better networked, start with regularly attending events that you think will yield strong contacts and bolster the ones you already have. Consider a goal for how many events or which events you think best.
3. Review last year’s networking and resolve to improve. Spend some time reviewing your calendar to analyze how you did last year. Did you attend events regularly? When you attended events, did you meet people who helped you or who you helped? Did you follow up properly? Are there some people you need to meet again to follow up from early last year? What can you change to improve for 2014?
4. Consider follow up as a resolution. Many people meet others successfully but fail to follow up properly and maintain their network. Do you have a system to keep track of the people you meet? Do you write notes on business cards or email yourself some basics for each contact? Do you follow up 6 months or a year after your meetings to maintain relationships?
5. Step outside the box but not too far. A famous song says “Make new friends but keep the old.” When you meet new people, are you doing so at the expense of your established relationships? Do you need to focus on cultivating your existing network instead of meeting new people this year? Maybe your resolution should be to ask your existing network to introduce you to new people who could help you?
Roger Custer is executive director of America’s Future Foundation