4 Ways to Expand and Delight Your Professional Network Before 2014

iStock — Coffee Cup with Sketch of NetworkThis article is part of creativeLIVE’s 12 Days of Giving series. To catch a free rebroadcast of Book Yourself Solid, click here.

There are just two weeks left in 2013, but the book’s not yet closed on your success this year! We turned to Book Yourself Solid, the prolific creativeLIVE course by networking expert and New York Times bestselling author Michael Port, for tips on closing 2013 out with a bang and starting 2014 out right. Each of these four tactics can be implemented immediately — none of them require anything other than your brain, a pen and paper, the internet, and half an hour of focused time.

Write a year-end roundup of your favorite articles or products.
One of the best ways to spread goodwill is by sharing relevant information with your network. In addition to sharing information that informs and benefits your readers, writing year-end lists provides the invaluable opportunity to start conversations with people you’d like to know but do not yet know. For example, if you want to meet more well-known photography bloggers, do a roundup of some of the best articles you’ve read this year, adding thoughtful commentary about why you picked each one. Then, share the list with the featured bloggers.

Make a list of 20 people who can help you meet your goals in 2014.
After identifying your goals for 2014, reach out — directly — to 20 people who can help you meet them. The catch? This list of 20 should be comprised entirely of people you don’t yet know, but want to know. Reach out to one person on this list every single business day. It’s important to grow this list to 20 and cap it there. Maintaining a list of 20 ensures your efforts will have a wide enough reach without compromising the time and focus needed to communicate thoughtfully.

Send handwritten holiday or New Year cards to 20 of your star contacts.
These 20 contacts don’t have to be the customers who spend the most money or book you the most frequently. Starting anytime after Christmas and before January 15, send handwritten cards to the 20 business contacts you enjoy interacting with the most and look forward to seeing. Write a personalized note telling them exactly that — describe your appreciation for their business and your hopes for their (not your) success in 2014.

Introduce two (or more) people in your network.
The holidays mean one thing for creative professionals and business owners alike: Q1 is just around the corner. Whether you know a small business owner planning a total rebrand or a creative professional looking for a new job, 2014’s possibilities are that much more powerful when amplified by introductions. Make a list of every talented person you know, listing their strengths in one column and their needs in another column. Are there any contacts with strengths that directly meet another contact’s needs? Bingo. Above and beyond introducing future business partners, think about two people you know who you think should know each other.

One note: Always make introductions via professional, published contact information unless your contacts request otherwise.

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Whitney Ricketts is CreativeLive's Senior Communications Manager. Email her at whitney [dot] ricketts [at] creativelive [dot] com.