Today marks the start of International Networking Week, and as you can imagine, that’s something we at the International Lawyers Network are pretty excited and passionate about. We’ve sent out a challenge to our membership to increase their own networks by reaching out to someone that they don’t know well to deepen that relationship, and over the course of this week, I’ll be sharing some best practices for networking with you. I also invite you to share your own networking tips here for a chance to be featured on the blog!

In today’s post, I want to look at five tips that you can use right away to build relationships. Often, we can think of networking and relationship building as an arduous task, but really, it’s a series of smaller actions that we take that help weave the fabric of those stronger relationships. So whether you’ve got five minutes or an hour, you can strengthen your network today. 

  1. Call a peripheral person in your network: We have close relationships, and then we have acquaintances, within our networks. Call up someone you don’t know well, ask them if they have a few minutes to chat, and get to know them a little bit better. Find out what they do, how you might be able to help them, and how you can keep them on your radar for the future.
  2. Follow up with a close relationship and establish next steps: With your closer relationships, reach out to someone that you should be connecting to more regularly, and establish your next steps. Should you be setting up a meeting or a meal with them? Do you owe them an email on a proposal, or are you interested in their latest project (or vice versa)? What is something you can get on your calendar AND connect with them over today?
  3. Reach out to 3-5 LinkedIn connections based on their posts/articles/updates: Browse through your LinkedIn timeline and see what people are up to. If something strikes you, reach out to that person directly – but do more than comment on their update. Send them a note through LinkedIn, either congratulating them on their anniversary/achievement, asking them more about the article they wrote, or looking to start a dialogue on the piece they shared. The idea is to engage in a conversation that can lead to deepening the relationship. Big bonus points if they’re in your local network and you arrange to meet in person.
  4. Arrange to meet face to face with one person: Set up a face to face meeting – this can be with a close relationship that you’re looking to take the pulse of, or it can be with someone further outside your network that you’d like to better develop. Whoever it is, arrange to meet for coffee or a meal, so that you can have that in-person connection.
  5. Set 3 calendar reminders for the next month: While you’re at it, put some plans in place for networking. It’s easy to get motivated when you have the time/energy, but that fades when other projects and work happens. So while you’re thinking about it, set up three reminders in your calendar to follow up on something related to networking – it can be any of the above ideas, or follow up to the conversations that you’ve had as a result of these. But get it on the calendar so you won’t forget.

What are some of your best networking tips? And along with networking itself, what are some of the ways that you stay motivated to keep strengthening your network, when it might seem difficult to stay engaged and invested?