Getting the Most Out of Your Rolodex

One of the most important pieces of advice I ever received is to selflessly maintain your rolodex. What I mean by that is to network your heart out - but do so with others in mind. Connect with your colleagues on a personal level, and be reliable and welcoming when those connections engage with you.

Make the most out of networking events. I see people get this wrong all the time. Do not go into these opportunities thinking:

  • What can I get out of this for myself?

  • Who can I connect with that may offer me an opportunity?

  • I need to find the highest ranking individual here.

  • How many business cards can I collect?

This approach is always short lived and is never an effective way to create meaningful, long lasting relationships. Try shifting your mentality and start thinking about making connections for others and connecting the dots within your own network. I find that being the middleman is a great way to engage with new individuals and organizations organically.

Connecting with your colleagues on a personal level is an important factor in maintaining a healthy network. Make an effort to learn about your coworker’s and supplier’s families, hobbies, and interests outside of the office. This makes the work environment (especially the work from home environment) more enjoyable and can open you up to new connections. Plus, it makes your day feel more purposeful to learn something new about a colleague that you can discuss at your next team happy hour.

Finally, be reliable and welcoming when people from your circle reach out to you. Once you stop picking up the phone, you begin shrinking your network and doing harm to your personal brand. Remember, even though it may take some time out of your day, there is great satisfaction in helping others.

Recently, a former General Contractor of mine from Southern California, K&J Construction, reached out to me looking for a supplier recommendation for a job in the Charlotte area. Luckily, I had the perfect contact in mind at Financial Fixtures and was able to put them in touch. In those conversations, I learned K&J is expanding their services to other states, and Financial Fixtures had an employee branch out to start his own handyman business. This was an opportunity to reconnect with them both personally and professionally and it gave me information that could be worth knowing down the line. I also had great satisfaction knowing I was able to put two companies within my industry in touch.

Try keeping these thoughts in mind throughout your workday and implement them during your next networking opportunity. You may be surprised to find more joy in building your network when you remember that one meaningful connection is worth more than fifty business cards.

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