When Connecting Isn’t A Connection: 21 Ways to Build Relationships

We talk a lot about the power of networking, and how important it is to be connected to many diverse kinds of people.  But just because you are “linked” to them electronically doesn’t mean you really know them.  Take a look at your current connection list.  When was the last time you talked to most of them?  Would they remember you if you called? If it’s been awhile, now is the time to start thawing out some of those cold connections.

Below are 21 non-intrusive ways to you can contact a colleague, and take the first step towards strengthening that weak connection.

  1. Send them an article (yes, an actual piece of paper from a magazine or newspaper, via postal mail) on a topic you know interests them.  It might be some aspect of their business, their professional development, or a hobby that they mentioned last time you talked.  Attach a short note saying “Saw this and thought you’d find it interesting.”
  2. Find the answer to a question they had the last time you talked, and send it to them.
  3. Tell them about an upcoming event (webinar, technical session, etc.) on a topic you think they will want to attend.
  4. Invite them to an event you are organizing, or at which you are speaking, that relates to their work.
  5. Forward a link to an interesting article you found online, relating to a topic that interests them.  Forward the link, not the entire article (to avoid copyright violations), and include a brief cover note about what the article is, or why you thought it would be interesting to them.
  6. Send them a birthday (or other holiday) card.
  7. Follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, the ACS Network……and occasionally comment on their updates and other posts.
  8. Refer someone to them who may be able to use their professional expertise, or a potential customer for their company.
  9. Ask if they’re attending the next local/regional/national meeting.  Offer to meet for coffee or a meal in conjunction with that meeting.
  10. Post a comment on their blog.
  11. Mention that you’re going to be in their area, and would love to get together for a cup of coffee or lunch.
  12. Volunteer for an organization where they also volunteer.  (As an added bonus, you’ll meet new people you may want to add to your network.)
  13. Forward a white paper, case study, or detailed article on a topic of mutual interest that you’ve written.
  14. Let them know when a new store or web site serving their favorite hobby opens up.
  15. Pass along a report or article about the future of their field or industry.
  16. Ask them for their opinion on recent developments with an issue you discussed during your last conversation.
  17. Read their most recent publications and send them an insightful comment or question.
  18. Congratulate them on an honor or achievement they received, or a change in employer on their LinkedIn or ACS Network profile.
  19. Forward an article about their school or alma mater, or ask their advice if your child is considering going to school there.
  20. Ask if they’ve made progress on the problem you were talking about last time you met.  Share a new resource you found on that topic.
  21. Introduce them to someone who may be able to help them out with something (a two-fer – if it works out, you get credit for helping both people).

Have you notice what all these suggestions have in common?  They all involve you knowing the other person’s needs and interests, and forwarding information and resources that will help them with what they care about.

These ideas are just a start!  There are many other things you can do to re-establish connections with people in your network.  Post your own ideas in the comments below.

This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants LLC.  Lisa is a technical writer/editor and author of: “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists,” published by Oxford University Press.

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