I had an inspiring conversation with best-selling author, consultant and speaker, C.C. Chapman, on New Business Networking Radio recently. C.C. explained that he went through a period over the summer where he had to decide what was next for his career. He had hit a fork in the road. This has happened to me before and it probably has for you. We’ll reach more forks as we move through our careers. Nobody has the same job for their whole career anymore. It is paramount to have a strong network to rely on during these transitional times.
Close members of your network like family, friends and mentors will provide you with honest feedback on what they think you should do next. Professional peers in your network will offer their advice if you ask for it. Admitting your vulnerabilities is a good way to open yourself to new relationships and to reignite stagnate ones. People want to help you.
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C.C. relied on the advice of his friends and family to help push him into his new direction of launching his conscience-based consultancy, Never Enough Days.
During our conversation, C.C. spoke about ways he keeps in touch with the people in his network. I still haven’t found the perfect solution for balancing so many relationships, but there are ways you can do it better. Here are a few.
Allocate time each day to focus on your personal and professional relationships. Networking should be an essential part of your business. C.C. shared some ways he keeps in touch and I have discovered a couple of tools to help me do this too.
Conspire is a free email service that helps you keep up with your contacts. It sends a digest email to you with a mini-report of your communications. The report includes sections like your Top Contacts, people you email frequently and what your response rate is to those emails. I especially appreciate the Losing Touch section, which reveals several people you have not exchanged emails with in many days. It determines this based on how many exchanges you had previously.
Contacually is a service that you can organize the members of your network into individual buckets. For example, a new business lead goes into my New Business bucket. The bucket is set up to automatically remind me to follow up after 10 days. You can also add tags to each person. For example, C.C. specializes in helping non-profits and NGOs, so I have tagged him with each term. When a member of my network is seeking a specialist in non-profits, I can easily find C.C. and make the introduction. Full disclosure, I’m also a Contactually partner, because I find the service so invaluable.
LinkedIn Connected is an app that gives you a daily update of news from your contacts. The app reveals birthdays, job promotions and career changes. C.C. told me he uses this app to reach out and send messages to his network to congratulate them on new jobs.
On Facebook, rather than post yet another Happy Birthday message on his friend’s walls. C.C. sends them a private message using Facebook Messenger and starts a conversation. The Messenger app now allows you to record audio too, so you could even sing "Happy Birthday", if it doesn’t frighten your friends too much. I don’t think C.C. has tried this yet. I’ll let you know if he sings to me on my birthday in April.
If you have arrived at that fork in the road you should take time to reach out and chat with close members of your network. Like C.C., ultimately the decision is yours to make and you will need to have a conversation with yourself. The guidance and feedback you receive from your network will likely point you in the right direction. Take a moment to reach out to your network today to see if they may need your help. Networking goes both ways.
Listen to my interview with C.C. Chapman. His insight and stories will help inspire and inform you as you reach your next fork.