In my previous post, Building Your Tribe for Career Success, I defined the concept of a tribe:
“Your tribe is the group you can call on for an introduction or some advice over coffee. And they can call on you, too–whether for themselves, or for a friend who wants some intelligence about your areas of expertise.”
In my book, Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, which I co-authored with Susan Lahey, we described cultivating your tribe as the following:
The thing about a tribe is, you have to cultivate it, like a garden. You need to weed it from time to time of people you have no real connection with. You have to water it when there’s no rain. You may need to apply fertilizer. Most importantly, you should not neglect it. You need to cultivate a habit of giving it Tender Loving Care (TLC). It needs to be part of the way you think and live, or it will wither.
One of the easiest way to provide TLC for your tribe is to make it a habit of cultivating the relationships. Do you have friends you have not seen in months? Why not reach out with an e-mail and check in. At least once a week, I glance through LinkedIn or Outlook contacts and find someone I have not heard from in a while. I send them my checking in e-mail. It could be as simple as:
I have not heard from you in a while. How are you doing? How is your family? Things are going well with my business. Son got married last year, and they make a great couple. My wife’s business is still slow but getting better.
Let me know how you are doing and do you want to meet for a cup of coffee sometime soon?
I almost always get a response like the following:
Thanks for checking in with me. Life is good…… Too busy to meet for coffee, but check back in….
I now know how he is doing, and he knows that I care about him. Cultivating is all about building relationships.
What about meeting face to face?
There is no substitute for face to face meetings to establish and maintain relationships. I like social media but that good old face to face meeting where you get to shake hands and read body language is critical to long term relationships. When do you have the time to do this?
I like to have coffee meetings first thing in the morning at 7 or 7:30 AM. When our son was small I learned that it was difficult for anyone to schedule my time for me at that hour. My wife, boss, teammates, son,…. could schedule things for me to do at any other time, but first thing in the morning was sacred.
Sometimes it is not to meet for coffee. Last week, I met a new contact at 7 AM for a morning walk.
What time works for you? Lunch, after work for a beer or other libation, or maybe Saturdays. Pick a time, once a week, once every two weeks or once a month, to meet face to face with someone in your tribe. Make it a pattern.
Just do it! Make it a habit!
Are you cultivating your tribe? Are you doing something new and original that you would like to share?
Are you going to wait until you need something before you reach out?
Are you going to be that guy or gal?
Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.