In an age of social media and email blasts, building personal connections is more important than ever. Here are five easy ways to build your network in order to cultivate lasting, lucrative relationships.

1. Get social

While you may have a social media marketing department, it’s still important to hop on Facebook or LinkedIn and get personal.

Make sure you’re responding to each and every comment you receive on both your personal pages and business accounts.

Instead of spending your social time trying to get people to do stuff (Click this link! Join my list! Buy my product!), make it all about them. Check in with close friends and acquaintances on a regular basis and see what’s going on in their businesses and their lives.

In short, treat social media like an actual conversation as opposed to a 24/7 sales platform. You’ll build your network by maintaining and growing deeper, lasting, relationships.

2. Make one connection

When at a party or networking event, forget trying to make as many new contacts as possible. Build your network by making one real, solid connection.

Having a great conversation with one contact is much more likely to result in a follow-up and potential new client than 10 conversations with unqualified leads. Network building is all about quality, not quantity.

3. Follow up fast

When you meet and connect with a great potential lead, don’t play it cool. Everyone is bombarded with new people, content and potential contacts on a daily basis, and it’s easy to forget who you’ve met and where.

Follow up with new contacts within 10 days of meeting them if not sooner. This helps everyone remember where you met and what you talked about, and gets the ball rolling sooner on sales conversations.

4. Pick up the phone

Keep in touch to keep in touch. You can’t build your network if the only time you reach out is when you need something. Treat potential buyers and clients like you would friends, and give them a ring with no agenda other than to find out how they’re doing.

Keep in mind that this must be done authentically, however. If it seems like you’re reaching out simply to build your network, and it’s clear that you don’t actually care how they’re doing, your efforts will read false.

5. Be a matchmaker

One of the best ways to build your network is to connect people who can help each other. Hook up that nonprofit client of yours with a corporate client looking for a cause to support. Send your dog-loving customer to your cousin’s grooming company.

When you’re the go-to guy or gal for your network, you stay at the forefront of people’s minds.  People will also feel more inclined to help you and hire you since you’ve already done them a favor.

Want more Shoeboxed networking tips? Check out our guide to networking in the real world vs. networking in the digital world.

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