When it Comes to Networking Weak is the New Strong
A few weeks ago a client told me about a book that had ‘changed his life’, specifically when it came to networking and business development. This particular client is an incredibly astute, well read attorney and so I immediately bought the book with hopes that it would change my life too. The good news, it has!
I’ve read a lot of books when it comes to networking, communication, relationships, introverts/extroverts and so when I found myself immersed in this book it was refreshing to say the least.
The book, Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert's Guide to Making Connections That Count by Karen Wickre is a fast, easy and excellent book for anyone who is looking to up their networking game regardless of how you identify on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.
One of my biggest takeaways from the book was the focus on two concepts called ‘weak ties’ and ‘keeping in loose touch’. I found these interesting for a couple of reasons, but primarily because the word weak and the word loose are two terms you don’t generally associate with successful networking.
Karen shares her definition of these two terms in this article, An Introvert’s Advice for Networking, and truthfully she says it better than I could so enjoy learning directly from Karen!
“The key to overcoming your fears about networking is to practice a little bit every day — and to do it when you don’t need specific help. I call it “keeping in loose touch”: You pop up now and again to your connections and acquaintances (old and new), without any obligation to follow up or see each other in person. If you do this when you’re not feeling needy, you will begin to see yourself as a giver, not a taker. And if you can occasionally solve problems for others as a result of these check-ins, it will help you get over your fear of feeling needy.”
This is spot on advice! One of the biggest challenges I hear from clients and friends is the notion that they don’t want to come across as greedy, needy or self absorbed. Practicing various types of networking by keeping in ‘lose touch’ is a great way to maintain relationships and act as a connector when others need help and thus feel 100% confident to ask for help when you’re seeking support. Karen goes on in this article to share,
“My guiding principle for easier networking is this: Nurture it before you need it. In his book Friend of a Friend, business school professor David Burkus (TED talk: Why you should know how much your coworkers get paid) zeroes in on the idea that the people you already know — but the ones who are our more distant contacts, or our “weak ties” — are the ones best suited to help you. As he observes, ”When we have a career setback … we tend to only tell a close circle of friends who may or may not be able to help. … Instead, we ought to go to our weak and dormant ties, tell them our story, and see what opportunities they have. Even better, we ought to start a regular practice of re-engaging with our weak and dormant ties.” That’s what keeping in loose touch is about.”
The notion of weak ties is another incredible tool for anyone looking to become a more strategic connector. Ironically, over the past 3 months I’ve been on the receiving end of many ‘weak tie’ reach outs and each time I received an email for an old colleague, friend or friend of friend I was pleasantly surprised to hear from each person. They kept their remarks brief, yet personable and made sure to include something that they had recently seen from my social media posts, which created an instantaneous connection.
Curious to see what someone said and why it was such a win-win for both of us? Check out this exchange from a former colleague of mine, whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in easily 7+ years. Not to mention we now live in different cities and have moved out of the city where we originally met.
Subject of the email - Hello Long-Lost Friend!
Hello! I hope you and beautiful baby Ruth are doing well. I love following your journey into motherhood in IG. Solidarity, sister. This is not easy, even if it is so, so amazing.
I’m actually writing because I’ve been contracted by a big tech company in San Francisco called xxxxx to write a series of articles for their blog aimed at “Mompreneurs” and I’m wondering if you’d be willing to answer some questions about networking or business coaching or whatever your specialty is? It’s free publicity for you (not that you need it!) so if it’s something you’re interested in, let me know and I’ll send you a couple questions...
I responded with -
Great to hear from you. I love following your life as well, it's such a blessing to have social media for this exact reason.
I would love to answer any questions you have and help in any way I can. Please email them to me at: AlyceBlumCoaching@gmail.com.
After I sent her my responses this was the final email -
Subject of the email - THANK YOU
I just wanted to say thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. I was actually able to turn what you sent me in to two pieces -- a profile about you and your coaching business and then a shorter piece on networking tips for busy moms.
I'll let you know when they publish the articles!
I hope you're enjoying the warming weather and lengthening days.
Truly, thank you so much!
Keeping in touch, being a connector, asking for help or receiving help doesn’t have to be as daunting or as complicated as most of us have made it out to be. Following Karen’s simple and effective advice when it comes to ‘keeping in loose touch’ and spending more time connecting with ‘weak ties’ will ease your nerves and result in a high RON aka return on networking!