I’m writing this blog post on the first flight I’ve been on in 19 months.


I’m traveling to the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics’ conference.

I’m not going to lie – I’m a little bit uncomfortable being back in the air. But the reason I’m going is because:

  1. I’m vaccinated and in a double mask

  2. I can’t wait to see my compliance peers

I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships in our industry and how we foster them for the long term. But who has time for hours of networking?

We know that relationships are critical but taking the time to foster them can be hard. The answer is found in little activities that create big feelings of connection.

Here are 10 ways that take less than a minute to supercharge your network and relationships.

1. Compliment someone in the comments on LinkedIn

When you see an article on LinkedIn that reminds you of someone, say so in the comments section. For example, if there is an article on privacy impact assessments and your co-worker runs your program well, write something like “This reminds me of how Sarah DeSantis runs our program – terrifically.”

 Make sure you use the “@” symbol to highlight the person’s name in the post. They’ll be notified that they’ve been named, making them feel special when they see the public recognition of their skills.

2. Remember work anniversaries

When new folks join your team or important managers come on board, make a note in your calendar with a reminder scheduled for a year from now. 365 days later, you can write to congratulate them on their work anniversary and share how much you’ve appreciated their contribution.

Very few people will remember work anniversaries – even the person themselves may not be keeping track. It’ll make you stand out and the person will be flattered.

3. Use Superlatives when appropriate

Which would you prefer to be called, “good” or “wildly effective?” How about “nice” versus “rock star?” When it’s appropriate, use unusual words or superlatives to describe the people around you or the work they’ve done.

You can try words like exceptional, remarkable, noteworthy, singular, uncommon, unprecedented, rare, or extraordinary. One caveat – be sure to use these words only when they’re earned, or they will come off saccharine.

4.  Refrain from bad-mouthing anyone

Let’s face it – this is a small industry and people know each other. Far from six degrees of Kevin Bacon, our industry is more like two degrees of Roy Snell.  (If you understood that joke, you’re definitely one of us.)

Gossip gets around quickly, so make a commitment to yourself not to bad-mouth anyone. It can come back to haunt you. This leads us to number five.

5. Remember that everyone moves around and act accordingly

 I had a junior attorney at my Chief Compliance Officer job named Sarah Powell. She was extremely supportive when I started Spark Compliance.

 When she moved to her current job, she successfully introduced me to her new company. Her career is going fantastically. In fact, she’s just been named a Risk & Compliance Visionary by Diligent in their annual awards. Congrats Sarah!

You never know how people are going to move.

One of my best students when I was teaching at Delaware School of Law, Widener University, became a consultant at Spark Compliance. I’ve seen co-workers at one company become boss/subordinates at others, only to switch places years later.

People frequently jump between in-house and vendor roles. Remember that everyone in the industry moves around and act accordingly to build relationships.

6. Add Personal Details in Outlook Contacts

Small talk is part of business culture. Conversations about people’s favorite sports teams, where they went on vacation, what their kids are doing, or what they do for fun on weekends are frequent.

One way to quickly build relationships is to make an Outlook contact for the people you want to build relationships with, and then enter details of their likes and/or family relationships into the Notes section of the contact.

Next time you talk to them, ask how their daughter’s gymnastics is going or congratulate them on the Steelers football team’s win this weekend. They’ll be made to feel special and that will make them like you even more.

7. Write down birthdays

People frequently share when it is their birthday. If it is an important contact or stakeholder, be sure to note the birthday in your Outlook or Google calendar with an annual reminder.

Like remembering a work anniversary, remembering a birthday can be a great way to tell someone you’re thinking of them.

8. Nominate someone for an award, and tell them you did it

If you know of someone who has done a great job, nominate them up for an award. Awards in the compliance field are proliferating, and those who do a great job should be recognized.

When you see a call for nominations, think about someone who would be a good fit, and nominate them. Be sure to tell them that you’ve done it. If they win, they’ll be very grateful! If they don’t, they’ll still feel great about themselves for the nomination alone.

9. Schedule follow-ups

When you’ve met someone you like or who could be important in your career, schedule a follow-up in your calendar. It’s easy to meet someone you click with, but without follow-up, the relationship won’t grow.

Instead of trying to remember when you last spoke to an important contact, schedule a follow-up reminder in your calendar. A quick email or call every three or four months can keep the relationship growing.

10. Start with a minute-per-day on LinkedIn

It doesn’t take long to interact with the industry. Take the first minute after you get to work to open LinkedIn, make one comment or “like,” then shut the window.

By engaging every day, you’ll quickly develop a reputation as someone who is connected. You’re also likely to learn as people post interesting articles and share t
heir opinions.

This tiny, five-minute-per-week investment can bring your career to a whole new level and strengthen relationships with people you may never even have met in person.

How do you nurture your relationships?

Sometimes it takes distance from the day-to-day minutiae or distance from the ground to remember how important it is to nurture our networks now so when we need them, they’ll be there. By taking small steps every day, week, or quarter, you’ll get where you want to go, one minute at a time.