[Editor’s Synopsis: This article is dedicated to the art of  networking.  The focus is on the three essential elements that keep your network alive and flourishing: Be proactive, be responsive and do it with meaning. The following article is 848 words.]

Breathe Loyalty into Your Network

(848 Words/4 Minutes)

By Joe Curcillo

The backbone of every business is the network that keeps it alive. Your network maybe your employees, maybe your customers, maybe your business associates or most likely, all three.

As we look at social media, we are confronted every day by concerns that Facebook or LinkedIn change their algorithm affecting the number of people that we see in our respective feeds.  When we lose contact with our real-world network, we can’t blame Facebook. We must look inside and determine whether we have forgotten to do what we must.

Years ago, when I first began my law firm, I would visit a local car dealership every Tuesday evening. The staff at the dealer were friends and an integral part of my network. They would refer clients to my firm on a regular basis. These guys had their fingers on the pulse of the community. I would stop by, visit, offer them minor legal advice, and in turn, my client base grew.

About a year and a half into my practice, the dealership closed, and the staff scattered to new locations. It was not long before I noticed a rather sharp decline in my client base. It was that day that I realized that the adage, “out of sight out of mind,” applied to my law practice. I immediately recognized the problem and began to once again connect with the former owner in his new location.

To keep your network strong, you must be

  • Proactive
  • Responsive
  • Meaningful.

Whether you’re dealing with customers employees or members, you must be sure that you are doing things for them. Maybe it is a newsletter, personally reaching out to them, or making physical contact by visiting or calling. But it is up to you to make sure that what you are doing for people is not replaced by what someone else can do for them. Make sure people know that what you were doing is for them. Point out to your customers the changes in your customer service that make their lives easier. Make sure your employees know the goals you have for them as well as for the company. And when it comes to external networking, make sure you stay in touch, so your business co-partners do not forget that you exist. Make sure that they know that the people they referred to you are happy and benefiting from whatever service you offer.

Be responsive to contacts in your network. By being responsive, you are letting people know that you have not forgotten them. If you are relying on outreach by employees or third parties, maybe you should consider personal outreach interrupted by an intervener. Sometimes your network just needs to know that you are still there. Keep your connections with the people in your network seamless.

When the car dealership that fed my law firm closed, it was up to me to respond to the closing and follow up with the sales people who had become my network. Looking back, I always remember that a simple phone call to each one of the team members would have connected me to all the new sales people with whom they worked in their new dealerships. Instead, I scrambled and responded only to the owner leaving the rest of the networks to dry up.

Show the people in your network a little love now and then. Let them know you care, and their loyalty will stay intact.

Always make sure that your connections are meaningful. Get personal. When you were dealing with members of your network, make sure that They know that you appreciate having them in your network.  Your employees just need to know that they are a vital Part of your operation. Let them know that without them you would have nothing.  Allow them to feel appreciated and needed. The same applies to your customers.

When dealing with a customer a simple thank you to let them know that you appreciate having them as part of your family will go a long way to creating loyalty. When people feel that they belong, and that they are vital members of your network team, they will commit to that team because they know that is where they belong.

In a world that is full of social media, it is easy to say happy birthday on Facebook, or congratulate someone on a new job position on LinkedIn. Think old school. It is just as easy to drop someone a hand-written note to wish them well in their new venture. Most of us do not see handwritten notes all that often. But, when we do, we pause and smile because someone took the extra effort to let us know that they appreciate us.

It’s easy to look at social media find out some important dates in people’s lives. You can find out their birthdays, their anniversaries in their career changes with a quick scan of your newsfeed.

Reach out, breathe a little life into your network and watch it grow. Be proactive, be responsive and do it with meaning.

  • JOE CURCILLO is a speaker, consultant and entertainer who focusses on his passion for improving leadership, communication & culture with a Unifying Vision. He is the author of the Best Seller Getting to ‘US’: Discover the Ability to Lead Your Team to Any Result You Desire, and Don’t be a Hamster: 30 Tips to Spark the Imagination of Busy People.