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 by email.
But what happens with those 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 once every one or two months with everybody you want to have and keep in your network?
From Zero Keep in Touch to 400 Highly Personal Interactions
I used to have absolutely no keep in touch system in place until about one year ago. Sure, I had all my 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.
1. I had lots of Zombies in my network that I did not really feel connected with
2. I had no system in place and my keep in touch efforts were a mess or non-existent
3. I felt like it would take me forever to keep in touch with so many people and therefore I never started
I wrote about the first problem in details in this blog post.
So how did I go from zero keep in touch to 400 highly personal interactions with people I sincerely want to keep in touch with?
1. I implemented a filter so I would only let people into my life and business who energize and inspire me
2. I implemented a system that lets me keep in touch with 400 people regularly, personally and in about 1-2 hours per week
4 Major Results from My New Keep in Touch Strategy
After implementing a keep in touch system that lets me regularly re-connect with 400 people 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 of things changed.
1. Most of my new business now comes from referrals
2. More people who already know me become my clients
3. I only have clients, partners and others I interact with in my network who energize and inspire me
4. I never have to hard-sell to anybody in the traditional sense because my clients seek me out and refer others to me
5. My sales increased and clients return regularly to buy more
The Importance of Caring About People in Your Network
Too many times people come to me and ask how to connect with that influencer and this decision maker without even caring about the person at all.
If all you want is sell your stuff to people, you won’t succeed long term because you will never, not in a million years, be able to establish a relationship and emotionally connect with that person.
Selling stuff, defining prospects and clients as numbers and not caring about who you do business with may have worked in the industrial age, too bad for the industrialists that it’s over.
We live in the connection economy where relationships, caring, art, creativity, thank you, true fans and leadership (not management) dominate.
If you don’t care about the people you want to serve, pack your stuff and go home.
On the other hand, if you care about the people you connect with, truly care, then welcome to more opportunities than your heart can ever desire.
5 Categories to Be Highly Organized in Your Keep in Touch Efforts
I have divided my network into 5 categories.
1. Vendors & Partners
These are people I already have done business with as partners or want to potentially do business with in the future.
They are service professionals, usually focusing on the same target market that I have and people who share my values. These are people who can book me for a speaking engagement or partner to do a workshop or seminar together.
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 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 because I chose to work with them.
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 my services.
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. Gang of 5
This is a small group of people I am very close with who cater to the same target market that I do. They are service professionals who offer different services than I do, so we don’t compete with each other.
We send referrals to each other if we see an opportunity that somebody we speak to is suited for another member of the gang.
I have received quite a few referrals that ended up becoming clients through this amazing group of people.
5. Network of 90
These are people who can amplify my business or that I can potentially help with my advice or my network. They may become partners or are potential members of the Gang of 5 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 than 90 people in this group. The number is simply chosen because it’s easy to keep in touch with 90 people every month if you only have to re-connect with 3 people every day.
They are people I admire for their bravery, creativity, boldness to do something bigger than themselves, their social vein or for their personality in general.
How to Keep in Touch Regularly Without Being Annoying or Impersonal
One of the biggest objections 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 be annoying 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 the 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.
Maybe you talked about that the wife of your friend is expecting a baby in two months so follow up on that. Maybe you discussed recent changes in the industry so do 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.
I use Contactually to keep track of all my conversations so I always know what is going on in the life of my connections.
2. 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:
How are you? It’s been a while since we last had contact.
Did you manage to buy that new car you wanted?
Lots of success for the new week.
We haven’t talked for 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 keep in touch 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 very regular basis. Every time I talk to somebody new, 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.
5. Send Seasonal Greetings but Make it Personal
Over Xmas and the new year, I received plenty of digital wishes with beautiful cards attached, some very creative, others more standardized. Unfortunately, most of them were impersonal and it was very clear that they were sent to hundreds or even thousands of people at once.
I also did this through the Career Network Switzerland on LinkedIn and my mailing list. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to make it extremely personal if you send an email to 8000 people.
However, besides that, I sent new years greetings, completely personalized to all of my clients and very close connections.
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 and that number is growing every week. I also mentioned that these are not just random people but people I truly care about.
If I wanted to regularly keep in touch with that large number of people, it would probably 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’m close with and I care about.
3 Action Steps to a Highly Efficient & Effective Keep in Touch Strategy
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