Column: Ignore your network and it will go away
Photo by Greg Peters | Contributor
Sounds like Luke is wanting some attention again.
A couple of years ago we lost our other cat, Ray. It was sad for us, but it's been even harder on his brother Luke. They weren't completely inseparable, but they were very close and Luke feels the absence. This has made him a little (a lot) needy. It doesn't help that since then we've had some significant work done on the house and a new baby -- now old enough to follow him around -- enter his world. So things are just not right in his domain, poor guy.
And he certainly lets us know it.
If he starts feeling neglected he'll meow for attention. If that doesn't work, he'll start putting his front paws on my lap. Eventually, he jumps up on us so we can pay proper attention to him and his needs. If we continue to neglect him after that, well, let's just say that things go downhill rapidly after that and no one ends up happy.
Too bad our networking connections don't behave the same way (at least up to but not including the destruction of furniture).
If you neglect your connections, unlike Luke, they are not going to go to increasing lengths to get your attention. In fact, most folks aren't going to make much of an effort to maintain a relationship anyway. If you ignore it, so will they. Without really trying (which is the point here) your network will evaporate from neglect. And guess whose fault that is?
OK, technically it's both of you, but since they aren't going to do anything about it, the responsibility is all on you. This is why a tool like a tickler file comes in handy. It helps you give your network the attention it needs to thrive and develop.
Here are just a couple of things you can do:
- Send a quick "How are you?" email to two or three contacts.
- Maintain a once-a-month newsletter which includes a little personal information about yourself.
- Call one person, just to say hello.
- Schedule a lunch with one of your connections (you were going to eat anyway, right?)
- Call them up and wish them a happy birthday (or sing!)
Fortunately for us, networks require considerably less attention than my cat. Most of your connections won't need to have their ears scratched on an hourly basis. In fact, once you've put in the groundwork, a light touch once a month or so will probably be sufficient to maintain most relationships.
Don't let the work you've put into building the relationships go to waste through neglect. Those few minutes a day you spend will pay off in a richer more enjoyable life in the long run.