Hit These Numbers to Strengthen Your Network

By Heather Baldwin

Selling is all about numbers: commissions, discounts, the number of cold calls and appointments you need to reach a numerical quota. Few people think of networking and relationship building as a numbers game, as well, but it is. Hit the right numbers with the right activities and your network will grow and strengthen, says Andrea Nierenberg in her new book Million Dollar Networking (Capital Books, 2005). Here are some numerical goals you can set to build your network:

1. Call four people per week to revive past relationships and reconnect with people in your network. The four calls should include:

  1. One client or prospect that you have not been in touch with for awhile.
  2. One former business colleague.
  3. One friend you haven’t heard from recently.
  4. One current friend.

The last call will be the easiest and most fun to make so it’s your reward for making the other three calls, says Nierenberg. As you work through your contact list, you’ll find that all past relationships become current ones. Once that happens, use the power of nine (see #4 below) to maintain them.

2. Use the 2-2-2 strategy for exploring a new organization. As a sales person, you know the importance of getting involved, joining organizations and meeting new people. The problem is that there are usually far more groups and associations to join than there are hours in the day. So how do you figure out which groups are a gold mine of clients, suppliers, friends and mentors, and which are a waste of time? Use Nierenberg’s 2-2-2 strategy: Attend two meetings; meet two people and exchange business cards; and arrange two follow-up meetings – one with each of the people you met – for breakfast, lunch or coffee. Using this method, you’ll find out if the organization is worth your while. And even if it isn’t, you’ll still have expanded your network by two!

3. Give five compliments a day to strengthen your ties with people. It doesn’t need to be something big, but it does need to be sincere. To keep track, put five pennies in your left-hand pocket in the morning. Each time you give a sincere compliment, take out a penny and put it in your right-hand pocket. By the end of the day, your left pocket should be empty and the five people you complimented should have supercharged motivation and enthusiasm.

4. Use the power of nine to maintain your current relationships. Every day, Nierenberg goes through her database and does the following:

  1. Sends out three handwritten notes.
  2. Sends three additional emails.
  3. Makes three additional phone calls.

Her database includes her contacts’ preferred means of communication, so she says thank you or touches base in the way they prefer. “This becomes a powerful and effective way to maintain meaningful business relationships,” says Nierenberg. “It only takes about 16 minutes of your day, and it’s very ‘net-worth’ it!”