Building a network is only one side to great relationships. Maintaining your contacts is probably the biggest part of the game. Many people miss this step. They go to conferences, collect business cards and once they come home or to the office, the cards go into a register of some kind. Most of the cards are never taken out again. This is a complete waste of valuable contacts you have gained and very inefficient. In this post I will show you 4 easy ways to stay in touch with your network of contacts.
1. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Coffee
We all must eat and drink. Why not inviting new contacts to lunch or dinner. Lunch is probably more casual but great business is done over dinner as well, especially because we tend to be a bit more open minded, maybe because of the wine or just simply because the work day is finished. I basically use all of these occasions for staying in touch with my network.
On average I have lunch about 3-4 times a week with others outside of the office and 1-3 times for dinner per week. The opportunities that arise are countless. Every now and then I also do breakfast, just because I love a healthy meal in the morning and chatting over great coffee. A quick 15 minute coffee after lunch is perfect to discuss small things and also if people are too busy for lunch or dinner.
2. Birthday calls
This is a big one. Most of the people I know congratulate their friends, business partners, clients. etc. with a message on Facebook, SMS or Email. Very rarely there are phone calls involved except if they are best friends.
From my experience, when I call somebody in my network at their birthdays just to congratulate and say hello, a pleasant surprised voice on the other end of the line expresses their deepest thanks. If you only get the voicemail, no problem. Voice messages are still ways ahead of email in terms of effectiveness. And due to our lovely technology these days, you can also record yourself singing happy birthday for 12 times and send the best copy to your friend.
Depending on how comfortable you feel, you can call everybody on their birthdays or start with the very close ones first and broaden it to more and more people.
But I don’t have the time to call everybody in my network!
I hear this a lot. And I admit of thinking it as well from time to time. It is not a must to call everyone in your network on their birthdays but it is the most effective action to take. You have to leverage yourself who to call or not to call. Or you can sign up for my Personal Career Coaching and ask me any question you have.
3. Sharing articles, blogposts, videos, photos – publicly and personally
I know that this topic has been discussed many times but I still think it’s worth it to mention here just because of the effect it has on everyone in your network. To share articles with your network publicly it is best if you use a social media service like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. I use Facebook for my private network and LinkedIn for my professional one. When I mean sharing publicly I simply mean doing that by posting a link to an interesting article, video, photo or blogpost as a status update and add a personal message to it.
A quick side note: If you can decide between written text and video or photo, always go for the latter. It is proven that photos are liked, commented, shared and viewed much more than written text. Video is also very effective and will grow much more in the next few years.
Sharing these information publicly on your profile with help your personal and professional brand and help others to see you as an expert.
The personal version of this tactic is even more effective. It is very important, that the information is in context with what you and this person have in common or what she or he likes or is interested in. For example last week I had a discussion with a friend about love and happiness. The day after I received and email from a newsletter about exactly what we chatted about so I forwarded it to that person as it was perfectly in context.
Please be aware that this does not mean you have the permission to send anybody any article you find about this topic. This is called SPAM! Don’t overdo it. Only send the information when it feels right and when you stumble upon the info or remember you read about it or saw it somewhere.
4. Invite them to events of any kind
I am writing this blogpost while sitting in my favorite Starbucks. I came up with this 4th point because on the wall it sais that they are hosting a coffee seminar this month and that clients are sincerely welcome to join. So why not texting a few friends about it and have fun while chatting over coffee and learning something at the same time.
There are many other events to participate in. Football, Ice hockey, Basketball, Baseball, any kind of races, small local events. The possibilities are endless. And I live in a town with only 150’000 inhabitants so I’m sure there is much more happening in bigger cities.
For example this week I wanted to go for drinks with a friend in the city. Instead another friend called me about a beach volleyball tournament that was free to watch, so we passed on the bar and went to the tournament. We had great fun, enjoyed the sun and met some other friends and new people while cheering and supporting my friends team.
Another event was our national holiday in Switzerland on 1st August. I planned to go watch the fireworks with a friend. Instead of that I invited around 10 people to my flat and we had dessert, beer and wine and went to see the fireworks all together. On the go we met some more friends and ended up with around 25 people in a bar at the end of the night.
The main point I want to make here is that it’s much more fun to hang out with more people. At the same time you have the chance to see many more people form your network more regularly.
Do you want to master your interviews? Would you like to know exactly how to build relationships to the right people to create your dream CAREER? Check out the CAREER Academy!
What ways do you use to stay in touch with your friends? Share your experience in the comments!