The art of systematic networking

Networking doesn't have to be a dreaded word. Discover how to blend systems with sincerity for deeper connections.

I write weekly about the strategies, habits, and tactics around cultivating the connections that matter to you.

In one of the businesses I’m advising, we recently implemented EOS - a simple yet elegant framework for helping a team figure out and communicate what to work on (and why). The team welcomed it with open arms.

Then, last Friday, I had back to back calls with people who I know have developed expertise in EOS. When we started laying out a strategy for cultivating the many relationships they knew they wanted to maintain, it was as if I was asking them to sell their mothers to the circus.

In the world of business, we often approach sales and other aspects of our business with a high degree of intentionality, systems, and processes.

Yet, when it comes to maintaining our network, that same level of structured approach tends to fall by the wayside. Why is it that we hesitate to apply the same principles to networking as we do to other critical aspects of our business?

(periodic programming note: I loathe the term “networking” given all the sleazy connotations it invokes. Haven’t found anything better, so we’re rolling with it.)

The Misconception of Inauthenticity

One of the primary reasons for this hesitation is the fear of coming across as inauthentic. Networking, at its core, is about building genuine relationships. There's a common belief that systematizing these interactions might strip them of their authenticity, turning heartfelt connections into transactions.

Networking involves a level of personal connection and emotional intelligence that doesn't always seem to fit neatly into a spreadsheet or a scheduled task. The personal touch, the spontaneity of a catch-up coffee, or the warmth of a handwritten note—these are elements we fear might be lost in a more structured approach.

There's also an underestimation of networking's complexity and its impact on business growth. Unlike sales, where the return on investment can be more directly measured, the benefits of networking are often long-term and not as immediately quantifiable. This can lead to networking being seen as less critical and, therefore, less deserving of a systematic approach.

The Solution: Intentionality 🤝 Authenticity

The key to overcoming this hesitation is to find a balance between intentionality and authenticity. Systems and processes don't have to mean automation and impersonality. Instead, they can ensure that no relationship falls through the cracks, that every interaction is meaningful, and that you're consistently nurturing your network in a way that feels genuine to you.

Strategies for Systematic Networking

  1. Personalized CRM: Use a CRM system not just for client details but to keep notes on personal interests, important dates, and past conversations of your contacts. This can help personalize future interactions. Yes, I’m biased.

  2. Scheduled Check-ins: Regularly schedule time to reach out to your network. This doesn't mean every message is pre-written, but rather that you're making intentional space to engage.

  3. Feedback Loops: Just as in sales, seek feedback on your networking efforts. What works? What doesn't? Adjust your approach accordingly.

By embracing systems and processes in our networking efforts, we're not reducing relationships to transactions; we're ensuring that we're giving them the attention and care they deserve. It's about enhancing our ability to be present and meaningful in our interactions, not diminishing it.

To more intentional and authentic connections,


P.S. Remember, the goal isn't to systematize the human out of networking but to ensure that our human desire to connect and build relationships is given the structure it needs to thrive.

What did you think of The Sphere this week?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

If you found this valuable, have you snagged my course on cultivating your network?

“What do I do with my hands?” wasn’t a problem for me.

I’ve spent the past 12 years helping people like you grow their businesses and careers by cultivating the relationships that matter. I took everything I’ve learned and practiced, and put it in a professionally produced online course.