How To Grow And Strengthen Your Network

Do you feel like potential clients are slipping through the cracks?  Got a stack of cards from people you met at networking events collecting dust?  I want to help you to create a CRM that is simple to help you get new clients.

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Have you attended business events, met some amazing people then a few weeks later find yourself pondering
“What ever happened to those cards I got from those great people a few weeks back?”

You got busy and forgot to follow up, it’s happened to all of us.

Step 1: Learn from it
Step 2: Move on

Let’s talk about a solution to this common challenge with what many people know as CRM.

C.R.M. is commonly known to be “Customer Relationship Management“, which is usually tied to some kind of software to keep track of clients like ACT or Goldmine, these software programs can be very expensive, but can also be very helpful and serves it’s purpose.

What if you are not ready for a major software suite, but need to keep track of your contacts and want a simple system of customer relationships?

Sure, sometimes software is required, but often it’s simply a case of not having a simple system in place to keep in touch.

Sometimes you just need to look at what the tool does a little differently.  It’s just a way to systematize and organize they way you keep in touch.

Today I’d like to give you a few simple ways to add to your database and create a simple customer relationship management system with a few free tools.

I understand where you might be, like I was starting out, you do your own marketing, you bring on your own clients…but you’re not a sales rep.  Do you really need a CRM software or is there an easier way?

Time to look at this a different way…

Let’s look at the different parts of building your database.

  • People you already know well
  • People you know as acquaintances
  • People you just met
  • New people you will meet

The whole purpose of the CRM is to cultivate relationships to keep the clients you have and generate new referrals that lead to new clients.

1. Create an excel spreadsheet [I prefer google docs]

list out people you already know.  In the same list or maybe a different tab list out people who are simply acquaintances.

2. Add Recent Contacts

Next you could start a new tab where you add new people you have met in the last few week.  Don’t worry about adding those that you have met recently from the deck of cards yet as they have forgotten about you completely by this point.  What you may want to do is start with a phone call to reconnect, and build a rapport.  If this is someone you would like to develop a business relationship with they can get added to your database.  You can build free spreadsheets in Google docs with a free gmail account.  If you want further training on building a system with a spreadsheet leave a comment.

3. Add on a weekly basis

People you meet on a weekly basis at local networking events should definitely be added to your database.  You next want to determine a systematic way of keeping in touch which we’ll cover in another topic, but this is your starting point.

4. Affinity Groups

You will also want to reach out beyond your circle of influence, a simple way to do this is with what I call affinity groups.  We all have affinity groups, these are people with common interests we have a natural connection with.  For me some people I easily connect with are those with my common background, from California, military service/veterans, lived in Seattle, into blogging, have a bachelors of Arts, etc.  Start to think of areas you may connect with others and find groups or communities where you can connect with those people.

5. Go High-Tech / High-Touch

There is a new mobile app I discovered recently that I’ve really been impressed with, it connects your LinkedIn contacts and your areas of business interest and finds common affinity interests that you can connect with via their app and exchange an ice breaker message based on common interests.

Its easy to add them as a LinkedIn connection from the app and you can develop a stronger communication with them there.  The app is very clean and easy to use.  It has a few updates I’d suggest but for in the very early stages I’ve really been impressed.  If you want to look it up on Android or iphone it’s called “CanWeNetwork” and I highly recommend it for reaching out to business contacts outside your circle of influence with common affinities that can help you to easily start a new conversation.

6. Strengthen what you have

Your objective should be to develop a list of 90 on your spreadsheet that you feel you can add value to them, and you see the potential in a win-win long term relationship with them.  Develop a simple system of keeping in touch.  I’d recommend reaching out to 3 people on that list every day, simply put 3 names in bold you’d like to reach out to tomorrow.  After you reach out to connect with them, remove the bold text and select the next three.

We all can reach out and strengthen a relationship with three people per day.  

In a month of 30 days you’ve connected with each person at least one time to strengthen your relationship with them.

Now it’s clear to you on how you can develop and grow your database if you use a simple system to do so.  We covered a few basics on building the database of contacts you already have relationships with, adding recent contacts, how to rekindle a relationship if you forgot to follow up or didn’t have system in place to do so, and how to use a simple app to expand your network.

If these tips helped you and made you raise an eyebrow click Like and +1

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