I used to have a front door that was extremely difficult to unlock. The first time I tried, I was certain I had been given the wrong key. After struggling with it for about 10 minutes, I gave up and started making phone calls.

As it turned out, I was wrong. I just didn’t know the secret!

The key would not work if completely inserted. Instead, it had to be pulled back about 2 millimeters and turned slightly to the left. Then, the pins fell into place and voila! The bolt turned.

There’s a secret to making your ‘Personal Board of Directors’ work too!

Have you ever felt like networking is a complete waste of time and energy? I have! I’ve spent hundreds of hours doing it, and I know that most people just end up with a desk drawer full of business cards they never look at again. Alternatively, some get involved with a ‘networking group,’ but end up seeing the exact same people at every event without ever really getting to know them.

“Networking is a waste of time!” – Click to Tweet!

No, the ‘inch-deep, mile-wide’ philosophy is not the way to go. Instead, you need exactly the opposite. If you want your ‘Personal Board of Directors’ to function as a long-term asset that bolsters your personal development and professional advancement, you need to adopt an ‘inch-wide, mile-deep’ philosophy.

This brings us to the big secret – here’s how you build an awesome ‘Personal Board of Directors!’

Invent reasons for staying in contact.

It sounds simple, but nobody does it! And it’s hard to develop a relationship with someone you never talk to. Fortunately, all it requires is a little intentionality, and if you take notes at the meetings, you’re already a step ahead. There are two considerations when staying in contact – connection and content.

Let’s explore both in turn:

  • Connection – Inventing reasons for staying in contact starts with the connection you have with the individual with whom you’re trying to build a relationship. With an eye toward the reason you initially made contact, think about the topics discussed at the meeting: What passions did you share? What new questions have you thought of as a result of your conversation? What new information did you learn at the meeting? These aspects of the connection you made will inform your choices as you maintain contact moving forward.
  • Content – Unsurprisingly, inventing reasons for staying in contact involves making follow-up contact! However, if you’ve asked good questions and taken good notes at the meeting, and thought through the experience as suggested above, this part is easy! For instance, I scan the news on Google and read articles that go social on Facebook and Twitter every day. I also pick up an old-fashion newspaper or magazine when convenient. Thus, I’m constantly running across interesting articles, and when I see one that I think one of my personal board members would like, I email it to him! I also email when I get results after taking action on a suggestion made by one of my personal board members. In addition, I check in during holidays, birthdays, and sometimes just to say hello.

“Those who are blessed with the most talent don’t necessarily outperform everyone else. It’s the people with follow-through who excel.” – Mary Kay Ash, American Businesswoman

Other practicalities of staying in contact are important to note. Remember, you’re trying to build a long-term relationship, so guard against letting your enthusiasm devolve into annoyance. The appropriate frequency of contact is a fact-sensitive determination that varies by circumstance, season, and relationship.  However, if you learn how to invent reasons for staying in contact, you will cultivate a ‘Personal Board of Directors’ that will serve as an incredible long-term asset.

Editor’s Note: This is the tenth post in a series dedicated to helping you learn to develop your own ‘Personal Board of Directors.’ If you found this post helpful, be sure not to miss the others – subscribe to this blog via the link in the upper right hand corner!

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