leaders do lunch: network in 20 minutes a week

Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you.
~Mike Murdock

Rachael walks through the door of the cafe and everyone in the place turns to look at her. She’s not a movie star or rock star, but a master at building relationships. With charisma, and energy she invites strangers to share a smile and makes any conversation a joy. She has a list of contacts that never seems to end and is always ready to help any one of them. There is never a doubt or concern about where she will find her next job, client, or project. She always lands on her feet and is the first to recognize when change is in the air. Rachael is the professional business women we all want to emulate. What’s her secret? Building Relationships one lunch at a time.

why wait?

We all know that the time to network for your next job is before you need it. So why do we wait? The biggest excuse I hear is time. We never have enough time to do the work for this job, how can we work on the next? My reply: How can you NOT work on your next job (or client or project)? If you do not take the time now, the task will become more difficult and painful and you will take a great deal longer to achieve your goal. Here is a painless way to incorporate building relationships (networking) in only 20 minutes each week. Can you spare 20 minutes a week to ensure a strong network of meaningful professional relationships?

networking in 2 parts

Part one is what I like to call creating good karma. Every week take only 10 minutes and reach out to one or more individuals who are either already in your network, or someone you would like to add to your network of meaningful professional relationships. The objective here is just to connect and start to build the relationship. Depending on your current relationship with the individual you can either write them an email message or give them a call. Either way the message is simple: Thinking about you and wanted to connect to see how things are in your life and business.

Part two is the next level of building the meaningful relationship and includes setting up one face to face lunch every month. After you have connected (or reconnected) by email or a call, invite one person to lunch each month. Again the objective here is to build the relationship. Get to know this person better and understand their goals, objectives, and struggles in their career.

the benefit

Networking and building meaningful professional relationships have obvious benefits to your career by providing referrals and information on openings, but there is a more immediate benefit. By taking these actions you are enhancing your relationship building skills which will influence your relationships with your co-workers, employees, and clients. It also provides an opportunity to help others in their career objectives which builds your reputation as a go-to professional.

the math

You may be wondering how I came up with 20 minutes a week. It is an average over the course of a month. Each week you spend only 10 minutes on good karma emails and calls (3 weeks = 30 minutes) and save your extra 10 minutes to add onto a 4th week where you have lunch (30 + 20 = 50 minutes for lunch).

take action with purpose

Take 10 minutes right now and send an email to someone in your network to reconnect. Make their day and improve your leadership skills at the same time. It’s only 10 minutes. Do it now!