There is a myth circulating in the workplace and neighborhoods. It goes something like this “Networking during (fill in the blank, Thanksgiving, Christmas, August, end of quarter, bad weather… ) is a waste of time because no one is around.”

Simple logic would tell you that can’t possibly be true. Not everyone is out of the office, on vacation, or out of the house. In fact, I find fewer people take leave at the more traditional times for many reasons. 1) Long weekends rather than a full week or two. 2) The rest of the world doesn’t celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and customers in the southern hemisphere are experiencing a totally different season. 3) Traditional times off are often quieter, with less business travel and fewer meetings; therefore, perfect opportunities to get something accomplished as well as be available to casually connect.

Another important aspect of networking during off times is that it gives you an excuse to stay in touch with former colleagues, neighbors, friends, in addition to customers. You never know when those connections will come in handy. When you do need them, it can be awkward if you’ve not stayed in touch. Marketers tell us we should have a minimum of thirteen “touches” with a customer before they purchase a product. The same formula probably holds true for your personal and professional network.

Look for reasons to contact people. One of the purposes of this Competitive Edge Report is to stay connected with you. It’s also why I try and send birthday wishes to my contact list -- Facebook and some other networking sites send you reminders, making it pretty easy. I’m known for sending Thanksgiving cards. It’s a great way to express appreciation, no one is offended by the holiday and you are ahead of the massive influx of holiday cards sent after the first of December.

Forwarding links is another great way to tell people you are thinking of them. It’s non-invasive, cost-effective, and has a high perceived value.

I like being a contrarian; give people a little of the unexpected. That’s where snail mail and things delivered by messenger come in. I don’t know about you but I open anything delivered in-person or addressed by hand, first. They are so rare, the act seems special in itself. So few people send actual cards anymore, they have taken on the level of being a gift.

Many of you will claim you have trouble reaching people by phone or e-mail. I will argue it is because your timing is off and/or your message isn’t provocative enough. Want to get your e-mails opened? Place the receiver’s name in the subject. That gets 50% more opens. Continue the subject with something useful or intriguing -- “as per your request” or “thought you should see this.” When I put the receiver’s name and my name in the subject, I am almost guaranteed an open. How do I know? I get a response. When it comes to timing, when you send is almost as important as what. If the connection is not time sensitive, then Sunday is actually a great time to network by e-mail. People seem more relaxed and open to a “hi.” Monday is notoriously bad. Most people are getting started and overwhelmed with tasks and meetings. A lot of us attempt to clean things up on Friday afternoons, which is often a good time to try and call individuals or e-mail them.

If gatekeepers are your problem, contact your connection before 9 a.m., after 5 p.m., or around lunchtime. Most of us can’t tolerate the sound of a ringing phone and pickup, even when we know we shouldn’t. If you get a voice-mail on the first try, don’t leave a message. Try later in the day. If you still get the voice-mail, leave a short, upbeat message. State your name and phone number first, so when the receiver goes back, they don’t have to re-listen to your message. Ask for action. “Let’s get together before the end of the month,” “Eager to hear about your new position and want to update you as to what I’m considering.” Tease and be definitive.

Trust me, most people are thrilled to hear a friendly voice or read an e-mail without a demand or complaint. The message alone is a touch.

Staying in-touch, networking, or contacting all requires certain behavior to get the best results.

  1. Desire to connect.
  2. Respect for the person’s time and space.
  3. High-value and intrigue.
  4. Timing.
  5. Variety of method.
  6. Repetition.
  7. Facts rather than myth.

Happy networking!

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.