With 20 weeks left in this year-long journey, you might be getting fatigued from talking to strangers, writing those highly important LinkedIn notes, or leading the welcome wagon at work. That’s why I’m letting you take the passive route this week.
I came across this approach in the wee hours of the night over 6 years ago when I was nursing my then-infant daughter. I was up more during the hours of 1-6am during her infancy than college and grad school combined. That meant I resorted to my cell phone quite a bit to keep me company during the long hours of rocking, feeding, and silently praying that she had finally fallen asleep.
Ok, enough back story. Hopefully you get the picture (and if this is your reality now, remember that this, too, shall pass).
One night, tired of scrolling through my Facebook feed (that didn’t seem to get updated much during those hours) I clicked over to LinkedIn. This was before LinkedIn even had a news feed, so I picked a letter – let’s call it “P” for purposes of this week’s exercise – and I scrolled through. I looked at all of my connections with last names starting with “P” and I reminded myself of how I knew the person, and I’d keep scrolling. Occasionally I’d come across a person I couldn’t recall or thought there was an update, so I’d click into their profile and take a look around. I got through several letters of the alphabet this way.
While this didn’t lead to any lunch or coffee invites (let’s face it, at that time of life, I was operating hour-by-hour), it reminded me how vast and rich my network was. It brought people to the forefront who I hadn’t spoken to in years. There were students I advised during my first job at Stanford who I marveled at their accomplishments. There were friends from college who moved far away from Ohio just like I did early in their career (and stayed). And there were professional connections who were added at random intervals through networking, projects, and community activities.
At that time of my life, knowing I had a support system was powerful. And it still is today.
I did this exercise as I began promoting the work of Small Town Leadership. Only this time, as I worked through the alphabet, I jotted people’s names down. I reached out to them via private message. I sent emails. I had those long-overdue coffee, lunch, phone calls and video meetings.
The beauty of this inventory is that it will bring people to mind who aren’t at the top of yours right now. You’ve got amazing friends and connections who aren’t posting on social media everyday. This is a way to remind yourself of the network you’ve already built.
You can do this with any of your social media accounts. You can get caught up with your friends – even some of your “Hey, Friends” – without having to leave the comfort of your couch.
How many letters of the alphabet do you want to get through this week? Let me know if you give this a try. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what this passive networking approach brings to mind for your broader connection goals.
52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections is offered by Small Town Leadership. If you would like to see how much progress you can make toward making our big world feel like a smaller place, sign up to receive these articles on a weekly basis.