Over the past few years, a number of my colleagues have retired, leaving my network a little sparse. How can I refresh it without weakening it?
Treat networks like any asset on which you depend to generate income. Many assets occasionally weaken if they are not deliberately provided new investment. The problem comes when we look at our network as one big group of people. We don’t detect it is declining until it is significantly weakened. Breaking it down into parts and treating its care and feeding as a project makes for a more effective and sustainable referral source.
First, consider the individuals in your network in terms of categories and work each category separately. Categories might include geographic location, economic sector, how long you have known them, whether you have worked directly with them or not, likelihood of a referral, whether the referral is from you, to you or mutual, whether the person has colleagues who could serve as adjunct network resources, and whether or not the person is in an area of business in which you are interested in growing your business. These are just a few but you can come up with many more. Determine where the strength of your network comes from and monitor whether this category is growing or waning. If the age category is starting to grow older, indicating potential weakening through retirements, then start looking specifically to supplement your network in those areas.Tip:
Retirement of a network source does not mean they cannot still be useful to you or vice versa. In some cases, these individuals may be able to help you actually strengthen your network by making introductions to people they might not have felt comfortable doing so before. Also, they may be better able to work directly with you, now that they have left their employer and are less likely to have potential conflicts of interest.© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA