Networking – The Relationship Depth Chart!     

There’s an old adage that goes, “what got you here won’t get you there.” This saying is used many times to spur people towards innovation and thinking afresh about a familiar topic. 

For Crossroads Career, networking is one such topic! In fact, our corporate name used to be Crossroads Career Network! If you’re familiar with us at all, or if you get to know us a bit through our resources, you’ll see our ongoing reinforcement goes toward networking as the number one strategy for job seekers.   

A New Approach to a Familiar Topic

Today, I’d like to take a different tact with this familiar topic. Catching the tenor of Isaiah 43:18-19, which says, “Remember not the former things, or consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” And while this “new thing” will not be as glorious as what Isaiah prophesied for the Israelites, I think it can be of tremendous use for you in your networking approach. 

Over and over again throughout the job search process, job seekers work hard to develop contacts with whom to have networking meetings. They then prepare studiously to have a good meeting, and they may even follow up on the action items that stem from the meeting. Very few, however, keep their network informed and viable post-meeting. And fewer still nurture their network post job acceptance. 

The Relationship Depth Chart

The Relationship Depth Chart is a simple tool to help you ascertain where you are in a networking (or any) relationship, and then where you think it could go. Here is how it works: 

  • For the networking contact, rate your current relationship with them on a 1-10 scale. “1” being barely know them and “10” being you are so close you vacation together! 
  • Then, after reflecting a few moments, where do you want the relationship to be? Mark that on the 1-10 scale. 
  • Now the rubber hits the road. If you’re currently at a “2” and want the relationship to be a “7,” what tangible action steps will you employ to move the relationship further toward the future state? 

Whether or not developing relationships comes easily to you, going through a deliberate, intentional process to target an outcome for your relationships is a challenging process. Scoring each is relatively easy. Figuring out how to close the gap between current and future state is a challenge. 

Growing Your Relationships

Here are a few ideas to consider using to grow the relationships in your networking community: 

  1. Recognize them on their birthday – – after all, who doesn’t like to receive a birthday greeting? 
  1. Give them a random call – – even if you roll into voicemail, the fact that you were thinking of them and placed a call to them is meaningful. And if you catch him / her, a catch-up conversation without any direct “purpose” is usually well-received. 
  1. Set up a periodic lunch or coffee meeting – – getting together with him / her face-to-face advances a relationship better than anything I know. 
  1. Send them a note – – seeing something of interest to them and getting it to their attention breeds goodwill. 
  1. Shoot them a text – – sending him / her a short text of you thinking of them and appreciating one of their positive character traits always puts a bounce into one’s step.   
  1. Following up on a conversation – – perhaps a note or text offering to support them in some way with a challenge that they have encountered. For example, offering to help them study for a certification exam, do a mock interview, physically help them move something. The opportunities are endless if we’re intentional in listening for them. 
  1. Pray for them – – it might be a written prayer for them, a note to let them know you’re praying, or to literally pray with them in person or over the phone. Even if you’re not sure of their faith position, I’ve never had anyone turn me down when I offer to pray for them! 🙂 

It’s actually not that hard for people to realize they need to network when they’re in a job transition. But it seems especially difficult for people to continue to develop strong relationships in an ongoing way. And our need for strong relationships never goes away.

Like the old adage, “When’s the best time to plant a tree?” Answer: yesterday! So it is with relationships. Lilian Whiting once said, “To be rich in friends is to be poor in nothing.”   

I’d encourage you to make developing relationships a lifelong habit, and the Relationship Depth Chart can help you tangibly create that habit! Blessings! 

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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