If you think of networking as something you do to build your business, you’re only half right. While your contacts can be an important source of leads, networking must go deeper than that. Because inevitably, one day you’ll face a crisis and need advice. When that day comes, you’ll be grateful you nurtured your network.
I’ve been a member of the Public Relations Society of America / Silicon Valley Chapter for decades. Served on just about every committee. Held every executive office, including Chapter President. Some weeks I put in so many volunteer hours it’s like holding down a part-time job.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Because now, when a C3PR client has a challenge or a crisis bigger than we can solve on our own, I know exactly who to call.
Ranking Your Contacts is as Easy as A-B-C
We learned how to do business differently in 2020. Networking was easier when we could have a face-to-face conversation with a business owner about how we could help each other. Building that same level of intimacy and trust in a video meeting or during a phone call is harder.
With any luck, we’ll be able to schedule in-person meetings and events later this year. Calendars will gradually fill up as this pandemic resides. Now is the time to prioritize who you want to get reacquainted with by ranking your contacts. David A. Fields, a best-selling author, speaker, business consultant and head of the Ascendant Consortium, suggests segmenting your contacts by relationship strength.
First, divide you contact list into two segments:
- Your CORE contacts are people you consider the most valuable to you and your business.
- Your CROWD contacts are everybody else.
Next, classify your core contacts as A, B, or C:
- A’s are the people you can count on to call you back when you need them. No matter what. Close friends and family. Employees. Subcontractors. Associates you’ve known for years.
- B’s are the people with whom you’ve had a decent relationship in the past, but haven’t touched base with recently. With a little nurturing, they could be A’s.
- C’s are everybody else.
Finally, assign a number to your A’s and B’s according to how important they are in your network. Rank as:
- #1 Decision makers that can have a direct influence on you, your business and your other core contacts.
- #2 Influencers – thought leaders, business visionaries, technology experts, financial wizards, industry pundits – and other useful core contacts you’d like to be able to reach out to in a pinch.
- #3 Everybody else. Nice people to know. But at the moment, not as impactful as a #1 and #2 contacts.
Your Network is Your Net Worth
Make networking with your A-1s, A-2s and B-1s your top priority. Reach out to them at least once a quarter. Yes, this takes time. I promise you, it’s one of the best investments you can make.
As Fields says, “The more strong, vibrant, enriching relationships you have, the wealthier you’ll be.”