A couple years ago, I was devastated when my agency lost a large contract we had held for nearly 20 years. I felt my world was crashing down. One of my long-time professional and personal friends said, “Don’t worry, Nancy, your network will take care of you.”

Building a strong networkWe began reaching out to our network to fill the hole our longtime client had left. Since then, we have expanded the business in new directions and taken on clients in a greater variety of industries than ever before. Much of the new business came as the result of referrals from people we’ve helped over the years and other businesses we’ve done good work for in the past. We also won that contract back.

My friend was right. Our agency is now stronger and more diversified than ever before, and we have our network to thank.

Whether you call them friends, followers, peeps, tribal members, your gang, or your cult, your network represents the people in your life you care about the most, professionally and personally. You’ll go to bat for one another, and you’ll be there to lend a helping hand in times of need, just like our network did for this agency.

Building a strong network is critical to building your business. It can literally save the day. Here are five tips on how to nurture your own network:

  1. Stay in touch.
    Whether it’s on social media, through personal phone calls, holiday cards, and birthday cards, or occasional lunches (or cocktails!), it’s vital to stay in touch. A combination of in person and online networking is best.
  2. Be thankful.
    Send handwritten thank you notes. Remind them often how grateful you are for what they’ve done for you and that they are in your life.
  3. Help them out.
    Good friends and associates support each other. Offer to help whenever you can. Don’t wait for them to ask.
  4. Help others connect.
    If you know people in your network that could benefit from working together or have a lot in common on a personal level, introduce them. They’ll appreciate and remember your thoughtfulness.
  5. Work on growing your network every day.
    Go to networking functions and social events. Introduce yourself. Identify connections and common interests with the people you meet. Make that extra effort to keep in touch with the new faces in your network to build those relationships over time.

Networking comes naturally to me. I have been called an extrovert, a social butterfly, the life of the party. I love striking up conversations and meeting new people, but I know it’s not for everyone.

What if in-person networking isn’t what gets you up in the morning? That’s fine. Your online “tribe” is there for you. Connect virtually with those who share a similar profession or passion.

Whether you build your network through face-to-face contact, online forums, or a mixture of both, don’t be afraid to reach out when you’re the one who needs the help. Your network will be there for you.

  • Jean ginn marvin says:

    I would add not to be afraid to reach out to your network when time are hard! Sometimes it is EMBARRASSING to admit we are feeling challenged but who better to help you then the ones who love you the most?