Are You Keeping in Touch or Networking?

ID-100120762My son recently had a baseball tournament in a town where I used to live.  While there, I looked up some old friends.  I met one friend for coffee.  We exchanged stories of old friends and memories of the old days.

I had an opportunity to meet another old friend for a beer.  We had similar fun reminiscing, sharing stories about each others’ kids and generally getting reacquainted.

Keeping in touch

In previous generations, this was just called keeping in touch with old friends.  If you were even just passing through town, you were expected to touch base with friends even if it was just for a quick cup of coffee.

That was my intent with these two meetings.  The two people I met with were not just old friends.  One was a former teacher and the other was my first boss after I graduated from college.  They were two of my original mentors.  I owe each of them a great debt for helping to develop me into the person I am today.

keeping in touch
Are you keeping in touch?

In the modern day, any time you do that, you are networking.  That makes it sound a bit self-serving.  It gives the appearance that you’re only meeting with people to have a contact, drum up business or get something from them in some way.

Quite honestly, if either of them told me about a business or job opportunity I’m sure I would have listened to them and seen if it was an opportunity I might be interested in.

On the other hand, I would be just as interested in helping them if they needed a lead or some information that I could provide.

There are different approaches to networking.  Some people develop as large of a network as possible.  It’s strictly a list of names in a virtual rolodex.  Then, when they need something, a contact at a company for instance, they search their contact list for connections with that company and hit up people in their network for the contact.

“Hey old LinkedIn buddy, remember me?  I was wondering if you could get me a meeting (or interview, golf date, etc.) with such-and-such at corporation X.”

See my related post: Stop networking that way

That probably works sometimes.  I would guess that it isn’t too frequent.

A better strategy is to maintain a smaller but better quality list of contacts.  People you know and trust.  You keep in touch with them on a fairly regular basis.  Not with the ulterior motive of using them some day for a favor, but with the equal chance that you might be able to help them.

How do you keep in touch with your network?

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

© 2011-2014 Lew Sauder All Rights Reserved 

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