6 Steps to Preserve Your Business Contacts

Social relationship succession planning refers to the process of introducing successors to the professional contacts of individuals who are retiring from the organisation. Social relationships are crucial for preserving contacts between the organisation and its customers, suppliers and other 3rd party vendors whom the organisation work with for business success. If companies do not make the effort to pass on these relationships, business and productivity may suffer. Here are 6 steps to consider to preserve your business contacts:

Step 1: Get the commitment
The first step is to commit to making the process of social relationship transfer happen. This involves garnering the support of top and senior management and convincing them that it is beneficial to capture the social contacts of important personnel in the organisation. In addition, it also involves asking individuals who have these contacts to identify them. The challenge is to persuade those individuals who possesses these social contacts to share and be a mentor to others. Whether it is rewards or recognition, organisations have to be clear on what’s in it for those individuals who offer their time and efforts in sorting out their social contacts. After all, there is value in having social relationships and when individuals identify them, they may inevitably give up their cushion of safety. Therefore companies need to consider issuing incentives and other forms of rewards for doing so.


Step 2: Find out which social relationships are most worthwhile
Not all social relationships are important to an organisation. If the particular relationship makes it easier to communicate with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders, then it is a useful social relationship. One way to start the process is to simply ask key employees in the organisation to list possible contacts they have among customers, suppliers and distributors and explain why they are important contacts.


Step 3: Clarify who is at risk of leaving
After key employees have identified their social contacts, it is then necessary to evaluate the risks associated with the loss of those who have established social relationships. Some questions to ponder about include: How likely are these key employees to retire in the short term based on their age? How much time do we have to establish a formal procedure for handing over these contacts? It is important to take steps to begin passing on their social contacts in preparing for their departure in the future.


Step 4: Establish mentor relationships
Mentoring is necessary to pass on social contacts and relationships. Key employees with good social contacts are identified to be mentors. They will then be partnered with the next-in-line to make introductions with their social contacts. The main goal is to ensure that meaningful social relationships are maintained even when the key personnel leaves the company. Companies may offer some guidance, for instance, in what mentors and mentees need to do during the handing over process.


Step 5: Manage the mentor-mentee relationship
Once the mentor and mentee has been assigned to each other, there is a need to ensure that there is compatibility between them and they can get along well. Mentors may also need to include their mentees in their interactions with their social contacts so that trust can be build up over a period of time. A steady social relationship is not established until there is mutual trust and both parties can depend on each other.


Step 6: Review the results and process
There is a need to appoint someone to be in charge of this social relationship transfer process and this may be someone in the human resources or talent management department. This individual or team will then audit how the social relationships are being established and whether they are effective. Collating feedback from both mentees and mentors to find out what went well and what are the areas for improvement. If it is necessary, midway corrections may be made by finding new mentors or establishing new contacts to ensure that these special contacts contribute to business continuity.
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