Whilst you are out there busy building your network, are you remembering to take care of the relationship part?

Having a lot of people that you know is very different to having a lot of relationships. Dunbar’s number implies that we are unlikely to be able to know more than 150 people well enough, so building a network full of people you have a relationship with beyond that is going to be tricky. You can use the great tools that you have at your disposal in this day and age, but the relationship part is something that takes time and effort and certainly can’t be done overnight.

If you want to have a strong group of people that have your back and you theirs you have to be discerning about who you build relationships with and how. I may not have all the answers here and I certainly struggle as much as the next person, but sending out a newsletter to all your LinkedIn contacts once a month, is not it.

I would suggest that you take a good hard look at the people you have in whatever list you have and make sure that you group them in a way that makes sense to you.

There are your friends, those that you know you could phone or email and they would respond to say hi and want to know how you are and what you are up to.

There is a longer list of those that you may know and have worked with who will remember you when you email them. They may not be too fussed about what you are up to, but may be someone you could ask a small favour.

Then there is the list of the people you met at an event once. If you are lucky enough to have something memorable about yourself that they may remember you are one of the lucky ones. Often the feeling is mutual, you are not that fussed about them and they you. These are the people that may read a newsletter of yours once in a while.

As I say, I am not someone who has got it sussed, but I do know when a relationship is valuable and I try and nurture it as much as I can with the limited time I and they have. Everyone is busy and you will find that people forget the amount of time that has passed since the last time you spoke so hearing from you again will be like it was yesterday. Leave it too long, you may find that the relationship is no more.

I remind myself constantly how I would feel if it were me and if I would feel OK about the gap in contact and the reason for reaching out is. This keeps me in check when I look at my relationships and gets me through navigating them.

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