We are constantly meeting new people, online and offline, everywhere we go. We collect business cards, LinkedIn connections and start conversations at the industry convention, the local meetup and via email.
But what happens with these connections after a month or after six months?
Do you keep in touch with all the people you want to build a relationship with? Do you touch base at least every one or two months with everybody you at some point want to do business with?
From Zero Keep in Touch to 400 Highly Personal Interactions
I used to have absolutely no keep in touch system in place until about two years ago. Sure, I had thousands of contacts in my phone or stored somewhere in my Outlook, but I never really kept in touch.
There were three major reasons for this.
- I had lots of Zombies in my network
- I had no system in place and my keep in touch efforts were a mess or non-existent
- I felt like it would take me forever to keep in touch with so many people and therefore I never started
So how did I go from no keep in touch to 400 highly personal interactions with people I sincerely care about and want to do business with?
- I created a filter so I would only let people into my life and business who energize and inspire me
- I implemented Contactually, which lets me keep in touch with hundreds of people regularly, personally and in about 1-2 hours per week
5 Invaluable Benefits from Keeping in Touch
After implementing Contactually, which lets me regularly re-connect with my network on a very personal one-on-one basis and having a filter in place that only lets people into my life and business who energize and inspire me, many things changed.
- Most of my new business now comes from referrals
- More people who already know me become my clients
- I only work with clients and partners I deeply resonate with (My tribe)
- I never have to hard sell anybody because my clients seek me out and refer others to me
- Clients return regularly to buy other programs
The Old Economy vs. The New Economy
People sometimes come to me and ask how to connect with an influencer or decision maker with only one question in mind “What can this person do for me?”
If all you want is to sell as many products or services as possible, you won’t succeed long term because you will not be able to establish a relationship and emotionally connect with your tribe.
Looking at business as a transactional and faceless act may have worked in the industrial age.
However, we now live in the connection economy where relationships, authenticity, art, creativity, thank you, true fans and leadership (not management) win.
I wrote about this new way of doing business in this article.
If you don’t care about making a human connection with your tribe, you won’t last long in this new economy.
On the other hand, if you believe doing business is an opportunity to help and support the tribe that deeply resonates with you, welcome to the winning team.
How to Categorize People in Your Network
I have divided my network into 5 categories within Contactually.
1. Vendors & Partners
My vendors and partners are people I have already done business with or want to do business with in the future. They are business owners who work with the same target market as I do. These people are potential launch partners, can book me for a speaking engagement or partner to do a workshop together.
Most importantly, my vendors and partners share my own worldview on doing business. They believe that business is about building relationships with people we like and trust. They deeply resonate with my Why.
2. Existing and Former Clients
Obviously, these are my clients. I have worked with them in the past or I am working with them right now. I don’t split them up into former clients and current clients because if they have made the investment to work with me and I have invested my time and energy, they belong to my inner circle of people I want to have in my life and business.
3. Potential Clients
These are people who have mentioned they want to work with me in the near future or that I have spoken to because they wanted to learn more about what I offer.
This is where most of my new business comes from because these people specifically showed interest to work with me and by keeping in touch, I make sure they don’t forget about me when the pain becomes too big and they need my help.
4. Network of 90
These are people who can amplify my business and I actively want to support. As with every category, only people I deeply resonate with come into this bucket.
They may become partners or clients but I either don’t know them well enough yet or they don’t serve the same target market as I do.
This is where most of the people I keep in touch with are in. There are more or less 90 people in this group because it’s a manageable number.
They are people I admire for their bravery, creativity and boldness to do something bigger than themselves.
These are people I may have met once at an event or had a Skype call with but are not part of my “inner circle”.
They do have the potential to become part of my network of 90 once I get to know them better or when my business evolves.
How to Regularly Keep in Touch Without Being Pushy or Impersonal
One of the biggest obstacles I hear from my clients is that they don’t know what to say when trying to keep in touch. Sometimes, they are scared to come over as pushy or impersonal because they feel like they are sending the same messages over and over again or because they don’t know what to say.
There are some simple ways to make your messages personal and to always know what to say.
1. Look at Your History
There is usually a history between you and the person you want to keep in touch with.
Maybe you have met the person at a meetup or conference. Maybe you have connected on LinkedIn or exchanged some emails before. Maybe you know each other well but have not kept in touch for a while.
It’s important to check what you have discussed last time you had contact and take up the conversation from where you left it.
Every time I talk to somebody, I take notes in Contactually about where they are at and what they are up to.
Maybe you talked about your friend’s wife expecting a baby soon, so follow up on that. Maybe you discussed recent changes in the industry, so do a research on that topic and send your connection an article related to that and ask for her opinion. Maybe you talked about some changes that are happening in the life of your potential client, so ask how that is going.
If you know the history, you can easily pick up the conversation from where you left it.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Simply Ask, “How Are You?”
Sometimes, I quickly look into the history I have with my connection and then send a two or three sentence email with a “How are you?” and mention something personal.
Here are some examples:
It’s been a while since I heard from you.
How are things going with reaching out to Asset Managers, particularly the one you have met at an event and then struggled with getting an answer from?
We haven’t talked in a while, did you already move to Zurich?
Have a great weekend.
I just realized we haven’t talked for almost two months.
How did your presentation go at the conference in Berlin? Let me know if there is a recording available, I’d love to see your speech.
Enjoy the rest of the week.
3. Don’t Always Stick to the Schedule
If your keep in touch software tells you to message somebody every 30 days, don’t let this limit you from sending somebody a quick email when you find an inspiring video or article.
Try it right now. Stop with what you do for 5 minutes and think about 2 people this article could help improve their relationships building efforts. Write their names and email addresses down and send both of them a personal email with the link to this article and a personal note from you.
I do that regularly through Contactually because then it takes me 2 minutes instead of 15.
4. Connect People Within Your Network
This is one of the most valuable things you can do for people in your network. Make it a habit that every time you talk to somebody, think about 2 people in your network you can introduce that person to.
Just think about what this does for your connections. What if they go into business together? What if they become great friends? What if they get married and live happily ever after?
Do you realize how much value you can create that way? Do you realize how these people will remember you every time they talk to each other?
I do this on a regular basis. Every time I talk to somebody, I think about who would be a person I can connect them to. Usually, I immediately think of one or two people and right after the conversation, I go into Contactually and connect them with two clicks.
This has led to business partnerships, new client business, amazing friendships and many other valuable outcomes for the people I connected and for me.
5. Send Personal Seasonal Greetings
Over Xmas and the new year, I usually receive plenty of digital wishes with beautiful cards attached, some very creative, others more standardized. Unfortunately, most of them are impersonal and it’s clear that they were sent to hundreds or even thousands of people at once.
I usually don’t bother with sending digital Christmas cards because everybody sends and receives so many of them every year. It’s hard to stand out.
However, I often send out a personal email to my close connections to wish them a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
I use Contactually because it saves me a ton of time while still being able to personalize every single message.
How to Keep in Touch With 400 People in 1-2 Hours Per Week
As I mentioned, I have around 400 people in my network that I want to keep personal contact with. I also mentioned that these are not just random people but people I deeply care about.
If I wanted to regularly keep in touch with such a large number of people, it would usually take me at least half a day per week or more.
Whatever system you use, make sure it actually saves you time once it’s properly set up and not use more of your time.
It probably took me an entire day to set up Contactually properly the way I wanted it. I’m very grateful that I made this time investment because now, it takes me around 1-2 hours per week to bucket my new connections and keep in touch with the people I care about.
3 Steps to Keep in Touch Without Being Pushy or Impersonal
1. Put your filter in place so you only let inspiring and energizing people into your life
2. Set up & organize your keep in touch software (I recommend Contactually)
3. Schedule 2 hours per week in your calendar for your keep in touch efforts and never miss it