All it takes is a handful of 15-minute calls each week. Here’s how to make the most of your extended professional family.

No matter how busy or stressed one is, it’s critical to stay connected to one’s network.

Especially for communicators, finding time for connection right now is more important than ever. Connecting with people that can help you and vice versa is something that you can (and should) be very intentional about.

A strong and meaningful network will offer you an opportunity for trusted advice, collaboration and potential additional business opportunities to name a few.

Everyone knows networking is important and yet many feel like they don’t have enough time to do it effectively. So, I encourage my clients to try “power networking.” Power networking is a discipline followed by leading execs who understand the strength of being connected and what that means to their long-term career success.

Based on my experience as a professional, a business owner and an executive coach, the key short and long-term benefits of power networking are:

  1. It keeps you feeling connected, even if you are working at home.
  2. It’s a good source of information about current trends and best practices.
  3. You never know when it might lead to a great opportunity for a new partnership or a new job.

Power networking only takes 15-30 minutes per week and you can control the volume and the pace.

Here’s how to do it:

Develop a list of people you’d like to reconnect with. The list can include multiple categories, such as mentors, former colleagues, industry experts you’ve met at events, colleagues and friends who’ve recently made a move or recently posted something thought-provoking on LinkedIn, college friends, etc. Your list can be as broad or narrow as you like depending on what your goals are. Commit to at least one (if not five) 15-min calls each week, and follow up with a quick note.

The secret to making power networking manageable is keeping the calls or zooms to fifteen minutes. Be respectful of the other person’s time and hold to it. If a second call is warranted, you can schedule one as a follow-up. But if not, this short check-in can be the perfect timeframe for both parties.

Here is what each call should include:

  • A quick professional update sprinkled with a brief personal update, if that’s relevant based on your relationship
  • The catalyst for your outreach (I saw that you just changed companies; I was recently reminded of something you said/advice you gave me; I recall that you faced a situation similar to one I’m in now; etc)
  • An ask, if you have one, and an offer of help. Never forget to wrap up the call by asking, “How can I help you?”

Acknowledging that authentic networking is rarely ever one-sided, and looking for opportunities to help the people in your networks will go a long way. People remember those who offer to help and those who take the time to check in.

The master networkers know that this is a discipline that can be cultivated and maintained throughout your career. Reaching out even just one time per week means a minimum of 52 conversations a year with people in your network and thousands of conversations over a 40+ year career. Imagine the possibilities!

Most people really appreciate a genuine check-in. And it can be a welcome break in your day, and perhaps a little bit of sunshine, catching up with an old colleague or mentor who sees the best in you. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to connect and to see what’s going on outside of your home, your organization and your own business initiatives. It’s the chance for a fresh perspective and maybe even a fresh opportunity around the corner.

Stay open to conversations that enrich and enhance your life. You never know where it might lead.

Mary Olson-Menzel is the founder and CEO of MVP Executive Search & Coaching and co-founder of Spark Insight Coaching.

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