I wish I had known…how to organize my contacts (part I)

mirror_wordsLast week on “I wish I had known,” I introduced the concept of the all-inclusive “connectivity list.” This week I discuss the next step – organizing all those fabulous contacts!

So last week I talked about my initial reluctance to put everyone I know on one list of my “network,” for fear that it would somehow taint my best relationships. Once I overcame the mindset that networking was about taking advantage of people, I realized that the people closest to me were also some of my best professional assets, regardless of whether or not they were in a position to refer business or advance my career. Actually, regardless of whether or not they even clearly understood what I did.

The idea is to put all of your contact in one place.

(“So, even like my mom and my husband,” you’re thinking? Yes.

What’s the point of that? We’ll get to it.)

Stick with me here, because what we’re attempting to do is more than just put together a list of where you’re going to get your referrals in the future. We’re putting together a complete professional support network.

Did you make your list? If not, give it a try. Read this post, and start a spreadsheet, paper list, Google doc, whatever! It doesn’t matter where you start putting the names – just make sure you’re putting them all in one place.

If you’re done with that step, fabulous! But you’re probably a bit overwhelmed with what to do next, right?

I hear you – I’m asking you to group together a lot of people, some of them completely unrelated to one another. Why? Because first I want you to get a clear impression of what your professional support network looks like right at this very moment.

I’m guessing it is bigger than you thought it was.

But even if you’re still struggling to make a sizeable list – that’s ok. All we need right now is a baseline. From here we’re going to get organized and then set some solid goals.

Ok, so about that “get organized” part. Exactly how are you supposed to organize this massive list I’ve asked you to create?

First you’re going to create categories. I suggest that you simply start with three categories: (1) people who are in the same profession; (2) people who understand or regularly work with your profession, and (3) people who are unfamiliar with your profession.

That won’t be so hard, will it? All right – if you haven’t done so yet, go back and make your connectivity list, and then divide it into these three categories. From there we’ll really be able to see where your first networking priorities should be and set some clear goals.

Next time I’m going to discuss how to look analytically at your three lists, and what to do next.

Lynn Walters dedicates her work to the support and encouragement of lawyers at all career stages. Having practiced as an attorney for over ten years, Lynn knows the variety of challenges that lawyers face. Lynn is passionate about hearing the stories of fellow lawyers and having real conversations about achieving success within the profession.

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