The Networker #14: Building Small (But Impactful) Networking Habits
Goals give you direction and a destination.
Habits help you get there.
Last week I explored setting realistic networking goals.
Today it’s connecting some healthy habits to those, to ensure you’re on track to achieve them.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (which featured as one of my 7 books to supercharge your networking edition), defines a habit as:
“A routine or behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.”
He explains that habits are the small (often daily) choices we make that shape our lives.
And by focusing on making small improvements to these habits, we can achieve significant results over time.
And that’s what I want for you: a set of networking habits so natural, you could do it in your sleep (although I don’t recommend sleep-networking…yet).
I truly believe this is possible for all networkers.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a networking newbie.
Attending an event is a big part of networking.
But the supporting habits outside of events is what contributes to results over time.
All part of a long-term approach.
Because building networking habits is like gardening…
To maintain a well-kept, thriving garden, it requires watering, pruning, and fertilising.
And if you leave it unattended, it will die out or become difficult to manage.
It requires attention.
The same applies to building a strong network. It requires watering, little and often.
Outside of events, it requires maintaining communication, seeking out new connections, and nurturing existing connections.
These are your good habits to help your networking flourish.
So, what habits?
A common mistake made with creating new habits is setting too many.
Or over-shooting what’s possible.
Or thinking they need to be super frequent.
To start with, think a small number of regular weekly and/or monthly habits.
And ones that support the events you attend (because attending the event is only half the job).
Example habits could be:
- Add 30 minutes a week to message and reconnect with 3-5 x connections in your network
- Add a 20 minute weekly slot in your diary to reconnect with people you met at events (or follow up meetings) 4 weeks prior
- After booking onto an event – reach out to a client or prospect nearby to arrange a meeting (that’s called habit stacking – boom)
- Before an event – the day prior, spend 20-30 minutes reviewing the guest list to identify who to connect and reconnect with
- After each event – create a note (or email to yourself) on your phone with actions and points from conversations when walking back to your car/train
- For the day an event – add 1 hour in your calendar the day following to personally follow up with other attendees (can also do this after booking on – a triple habit stack!)
Another way to consider habits you’d like to build is linking them to your goals.
Then attach them together.
Goal: Attend 5 networking events per month
Habit: Set a calendar reminder each month to book onto 5 events for the following month
Goal: Connect with X new business owners in industries X, Y, and Z, each month
Habit: Research the guest list before an event to identify attendees in this target market – connect and message on LinkedIn to warm up conversation
Goal: Schedule 1 x follow up meeting from each event
Habit: Add 30 minutes in my calendar the day after events to follow up with other attendees
To reference James Clear again (his work really is that good), a third way to think about building habits is this.
He talks about how habits are ‘a vote towards the type of person you want to become’.
Think about the type of networker you want to become.
Do you want to become the networker that adds value to your network? Build the habit of sharing a blog, podcast, video or piece of content with 1 person after engaging with it.
Do you want to become the networker that stays connected and on top of relationships? Build the weekly habit of reconnecting with people you met last month.
Do you want to become the networker that makes the most of your time out networking? Build the habit of planning 1 x meeting before or after every event.
What type of networker do you want to become? How are you casting your votes?
The Wrap Up
There you have it. A few networking habits to build into your routine.
So whether you’re trying to form new habits from scratch, attached to your goals, or based on the type of networker you are, start with a small number. Write them down. And track them.
Tip: Google ‘Habit Tracker’.
And remember – habits are all small actions. When multiplied over time, will help you achieve results.
It will help create consistent actions. And lead to consistent networking.
Which as I’ve highlighted in numerous editions, is the absolute key to making networking work.
Happy networking, networkers.
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1 networking tip, trend or tidbit – every Wednesday morning.
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