Most people think of networking as a necessary evil—something you do because it’s good for the long term even though it’s unsavory, at best, in the moment. One study even found that networking makes us feel physically dirty.

It’s true, building and maintaining a network is partly forward-looking. On the other hand, if it’s not fun, the problem may actually be that you’re doing it wrong. After all, the best conversations, relationships and connections happen with and around people and things you actually care about.

And better connections lead to better outcomes. (When looking for a job, for example, your best bet is to seek help not from a recruiter but from a friend.) What that means for you is: The best way to network is to stay in touch with the people you actually care about. And that can be a lot of fun.

How Conspire can help

In the spirit of making networking fun again, I’m happy to announce Conspire’s new Network Health Report. The report is a weekly email that reminds you about people you’re close with but haven’t talked to in awhile. It looks like this:

nhr

My first Network Health Report

When I got my first Network Health Report, I was excited. Firstly because, you know, it worked. But also because it was a list of people I really cared about. Katie (see above) was one of them—childhood pal and pee-wee soccer teammate, freshman dorm mate at Stanford, post-college roommate and, most importantly, old friend.

So I clicked the button. What ensued wasn’t what we think about when we think about networking. Instead we exchanged photos and happy news, plans for the future and memories of good times.

No surprise there—we know each other well and we go back forever—and yet, perhaps in the most important way, we were networking. Can I come to Katie (she’s a psych PhD, by the way) with a hard UX or user behavior question? Heck yeah. Can Katie call me if she’s thinking about working with tech employees or wants to study startup psychology? Heck yeah. Will it still be fun? It sure will.

The point is that being a good “networker” is just as much about being a good friend as anything, and it can be as much fun. By focusing your attention on people you really connect with, both inside and outside your industry, you can make networking and hanging out/catching up/keeping in touch the same thing.

To get your own Network Health Report and start reconnecting with the people who matter, sign up at www.conspire.com.