LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman has a ‘theory of small gifts‘. Essentially, it says that the best way to keep on the radar of people in your network is to find small ways to connect with them. This echoes my view that you must maintain the connections to your network, else you risk losing its power. So many people go out networking to seek new contacts primarily because they fail to see the value in their current network.
A network is not something to be created and left. It’s something to be created and managed. Crafted and nurtured. Pruned and fed. You get the idea. To do this, you’ve got to add value to your best networking contacts. That means first of all calibrating your network. Once you know who your top influencers, advocates and connections are, it’s time to find ways to not only stay on their radar, but move the networking dial. That makes them think of you more, talk about you more and miss you more. That’s good, right? So here are 10 powerful ways to add value to your best networking contacts:
- Go Social. Big them up on social media with a follow, a re-tweet, a mention or a share of their stuff. Tell the world how great them are!
- Endorse Them. Write them a testimonial, endorsement or recommendation. This is personal and means a lot to people.
- Phone Them Up. Call them with a hello, a friendly voicemail message or a catch up. The phone is a very under-utilised weapon.
- Invite Them to Something. What events, conferences, lunches or gatherings might they enjoy? Send them an invite personally.
- Offer to Help Them. Say you were thinking of them, and wondered if you could help them with anything?
- Give Them Feedback. What can you do or say to make them better? Heard something about them? Feed it back – they should thank you for it!
- Take an Interest. Ask them what they’re working on right now? Big projects, plans and problems = opportunities to add value.
- Talk Them Up. Rave about them or compliment them to people you know are close to them. It’s bound to get back to them!
- Give Them a Gift. What do they like? It could be a book, an app, a resource, a suggestion, a bottle of wine, some chocolates or flowers. Whatever works.
- Thank Them in Writing. Few things beat a hand-written card saying how much you appreciate someone. Go the extra mile and put pen to paper!
“One way to help nurture good alliances is to provide early and explicit signs of your own commitment, showing people that you actually care about helping them. My name for this practice is the “theory of small gifts.” small ways to invest in a relationship and create more value for everyone, without expecting anything tangible in return.”
Reid Hoffman, Connections with Integrity
Can you think of more? Let me know @therobbrown and I’ll feature you in my next blog!