Dr. Johannes Ripken
Focus on your most important contacts!
Building your network and strong relationships comes with some challenges. Professional life and task and decision cycles have become faster - especially with the establishment of video conferencing in the Corona Crisis. We are even more often under time pressure.
As a result, we tend to take care of the things that are burning right now rather than the issues that are relevant in the long term. In business, for example, I have seen that networking or maintaining business relationships is not infrequently neglected due to a lack of time.
We cannot and do not want to turn back time. So it is important to adapt to the new circumstances.
The magic word is: Focus!
So, to keep maintaining business relationships feasible in everyday professional life, it is important to organize your own network and prioritize important contacts. Especially in times of online networks, networking is quickly established and remains documented longer than pure networking at events with handing over of business cards.
In science, it has been studied that humans can cognitively process a limited number of relationships. This number basically varies between 100 and 250, but is on average 150 people - the so-called Dunbar number. However, to maintain 150 people to the same, valuable extent is impossible.
Thus I can give you the advice: Select 10-20 persons, which you maintain intensively as important contacts. 30-50 with a medium priority. 50-100 with a low priority.
The relevance of contacts is not limited to "customers", but can have different role motives, such as cooperation partners, media partners/multipliers, mentors, or people who themselves have an exciting network for you.
So here, step-by-step, are three tips:
Choose 10-20 key contacts with whom you want to build or maintain your relationship.
Evaluate your current relationship level with the selected contacts: To know how to achieve your goal, you need to know where you stand right now. This also applies to relationship building and affects how you approach your contact. In the near future, it will help you see if you are getting close to your defined goal or if you need to change your relationship building strategy.
Define your goal: Building relationships without a clear goal in general, but also for each individual contact, is not practical. Therefore, define your goal for each contact you select. Keep your goals in mind, but don't be too pushy when pursuing them. Also, make sure your goals are SMART (for more information on SMART goals, check Google). In some cases of business goals, the "time-based" characteristic may be difficult or impossible to apply.