Networking contacts. We know business is built on building a network of contacts, so we set aside a certain amount of time to go to different networking events and build our networking contacts. But having a large network of contacts or growing our contact list is only half of the equation – the other half is nurturing those we already have.

Nurturing existing contacts is something that tends to get missed off our to-do list, but it’s an essential part of the networking process! Nurturing your contacts and growing those relationships isn’t always about what you can do for them or the value you can provide – although these can play a part – it’s about treating them with respect and extending the hand of friendship.

So, once you start getting new connections through your networking, how can you ensure you’re nurturing them and growing authentic connections? Here are 10 easy ways to get you started!

  1. Follow up after that initial introduction: We tend to meet a lot of different people at networking events, so take the time to follow up, after that initial introduction. Remind them of where you met, who you are and what you do.
  2. Set aside time to follow up: As you set aside time to network, you should also set aside time to follow up with those connections you’ve made. This enables you to look into them further, as well as find things, connections and links that will be of benefit to them.
  3. Drop the expectation: This isn’t a ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ scenario. Drop the expectation and build connections because you want to, not because you can get something from it.
  4. Respect your networking contacts: Business women aren’t great at building other women up in business. There can be a lot of bitching and backstabbing going on. However, treating each of your connections with respect, is a key part of building authentic connections. Treat every contact with respect – on every contact you have with them.
  5. Make meaningful connections that help both parties: Which connections in your network could you connect with each other, to be of benefit to both parties? Know someone who needs a VA? Connect them with a VA you know is of good quality.
  6. Offer advice and help, if needed: We all have knowledge and skills that can be of benefit to others – the key is to find out what it is they need help or advice with. So, ask them how you can be of help to them! Ask what they’re struggling with or what their goals are.
  7. Ask for advice: People love to feel useful and asking for advice, is a great way to help a connect feel valuable. Don’t be afraid to get a bit vulnerable and ask for help and advice, if you need it.
  8. Introduce them to others in your network: Similar to tip #5, look to help your contacts grow their own network of contacts.
  9. Check in with them, just because you can: Popping into someone’s inbox with a personal note and a quick hello, can really help them feel appreciated.
  10. Meet up in person: Offer to meet up for a chat, lunch or a meal – people love to get out of the office and meet in person. Not only does it help grow the relationship, it also takes away some of the pressure, by making it more informal.

Nurturing your existing networking contacts needs to be a crucial part of your networking strategy. By taking the time to implement the ten tips above, you’ll help enhance your business relationships and ensure they’re built on both trust and respect – and of benefit to everyone involved.