To build a strong and effective network of contacts, you have to start developing and investing in it long before you need it. You don’t want to reach out or start networking with influencers or your potential users just when you need them. By then, you want those relationships to be fully developed and mutual.
Here’s the problem with networking though, it’s really time consuming. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about meeting people face to face or the already time-efficient social media – it’s still time consuming.
Can you really be productive if you’re busy answering tweets all day? Can you really be efficient while checking LinkedIn or trolling through the web trying to find content to share? The answer is usually no.
So how can you be a great networker while not wasting valuable time? These few little life hacks will get you a long way.
Turning Downtime Into Networking Time
We all have parts of our day that basically go to waste. The morning commute, the doctor’s waiting room or even when standing in line in the grocery store.
Most people use this time to constantly refresh their Facebook feed, stare at the air, or simply play Candy Crush on their phones. That downtime shouldn’t necessarily go to waste when it can be leveraged into building and maintaining your network.
1. Engage on Twitter
Engaging on Twitter is one of the fundamentals of building and expanding your network. Twitter is a great tool to talk to potential customers and start conversations with people in your field of expertise.
If you’re using Twitter for business the right way, you’re already following influencers and people relevant to your industry. You read their tweets and content they share, but you don’t really find the time to make a real connection with them.
Downtime is a great opportunity to do so. Just scroll through your Twitter feed, or make a list of people you want to focus and search for tweets you can retweet or favorite, or even better – see if they wrote something you have anything to add to. Answer questions they’ve asked, give help or any other meaningful interaction you can have with them.
This is an opportunity for you to invest thought in creating meaningful engagement with the people most relevant to you.
2. Talk to someone new
You can love it or not – but downtime is the perfect time to call people you haven’t talked to in a while or just catch up with friends. What if you could use this time to meet new people that might change your business forever? Well, there’s an app for that.
Peer is an app that lets you contact other professionals via video messages or a live video chat. The cool thing about Peer is that it connects with your LinkedIn account and filters your contacts by people who have a sufficient number of connections (meaning they are ready for business).
Next time you’re in line, or sitting in the bus you can just open the app, search for relevant contacts and send someone a short video introducing your business and what you’re looking for. Everybody who uses the app is there to connect and meet new people they can do business with. It doesn’t get any more targeted and efficient than that.
Surprise! People love it when you comment on their blog posts. In fact, commenting on someone’s blog post is one of the best ways to build a relationship – fast.
By commenting on someone’s blog post you show your genuine interest in what the author wrote, you help him or her ignite a conversation around their content, and you become an active part of a community that is also relevant to you.
Use downtime to go back and give valuable comments on blog posts you loved and found helpful. You don’t have to pretend to be interested in posts you don’t like. Be genuine.
4. Buffer bookmarklet
Part of building your community is by sharing valuable content via your social networks. While on your commute or waiting in line, your iPhone becomes your reading source. You read all the interesting articles you catch on Twitter, RSS reader or any other news source you get your news from.
To maximize your social presence, you don’t want to share all your valuable content at once. You want to spread it out throughout the day. Buffer, an app that lets you schedule and share content the smart way, has a great solution for that.
Buffer is easy to use, and thanks to their bookmarklet it super simple to use with your smartphone. Installing the bookmarklet takes only a few seconds using this guide and it will change your life forever.
Just add the interesting posts you read while waiting to your Buffer and keep calm, knowing your social media accounts are active, engaging, and interesting throughout the day.
5. Email five people a day
Here’s a trick I learnt from Derek Sivers:
“Secretly give everyone in your phonebook an A, B, C, D, or F. That’s your A-list (call every 3 weeks), B-list, (every 5 weeks), C-list (every few months), D-list (twice a year), and Friends.”
It’s very simple. Every time you get stuck in line or just waiting for your 20 minutes bus or cab drive will come to an end, open up one of those lists and just send a “Hi how are you? Just checking in with you to see what’s new” email
Those emails are priceless. Most people won’t remember to do that, so getting an email like that will make you standout. This is the easiest way to go the extra mile with minimum effort.
Getting everything done is a matter of productivity, hacking your daily rituals, and making better use of your time. In terms of building your network, we’re talking about the best time investment you can make.
Your network is your most valuable asset. Whether it’s for job searching, finding the best hire, or the perfect partner for your next venture, don’t wait till the next time you need help. Be a great networker, be a great connector.