Around the office, I am called "Digital". It stems from the impression I have left on the team since Day 1 when I toted my oversized, old-school laptop to every meeting, volunteered to manage our social media and jumped way too quickly on the CRM database bandwagon, dragging people with me along the way.
If we have crossed paths, I more than likely shared my favorite piece of advice that I learned from the internet. The specific source? I no longer remember... LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a cute little meme... this advice is so powerful that it should have been listed on every site!
So what is this advice I remember so well when everything else goes in one ear and out the other in this age of information overload? It is this simple statement:
Network even when times are good.
It seems so basic, so obvious. Yet so many of us only reach out to those in our network when we need help, an introduction or advice or when our business is struggling.
Network even when times are good. Stay connected to those in your network even if it means penciling in the next 3 months of networking meetings on your calendar. Better yet, use a Sharpie and make those meetings a priority. Others will know you and your business so that when the time comes (and it will come) that you need to ask for help, they are better informed and more efficient at providing that immediate support.
Network even when times are good. Yes, business is going well which means you are busy keeping it that way. Remember that you owe it to yourself, your team, your customers and your growing business to work on your business, not in it. Delegate those invoices to the accountant and go network with others in your industry, in your community and in your local chamber. Don't leave until you have scheduled follow up meetings with at least three people that you didn't know before.
Network even when times are good. Like sharks and remora fish, networking is also symbiotic. While you are experiencing smooth sailing, you have the ability to help others. That leaves a lasting impression on your relationship so when your times get tough, you have a rock-solid network to turn to for guidance, support and even more connections! Spend time building those symbiotic relationships now.
Network even when times are good. A positive review on Yelp, a like on Facebook or Twitter or a comment on a LinkedIn post isn't enough when it comes to networking. Take it from me, "Digital", I would love for it to be that easy. It's a great start, but it's not the real thing. As you finish reading this post, I encourage...no, demand that you to identify a contact you haven't heard from in a while. Call that person and set up a breakfast meeting for next week. You won't regret it!
This blogger is an administrator of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.