How to Stay in Touch with Everyone

Photo by Erwan Henry on Unsplash

No one would argue that having an extensive network is valuable in business development. 

From getting in the door to turning individual relationships into organizational relationships, having a personal connection to someone at just about any company you're looking to engage in is incredibly helpful.

How do you develop a strong network of relationships that can serve as the gateway to business opportunities? 

It comes down to a core rule: Stay in touch with everyone.

To be truly great at business development, you need to be able to maintain long-term relationships. And to do that, you need to have a natural curiosity and interest in other people. Of course, it would be naive to say that a good business development person is only sometimes mindful of the value that a person can offer to himself or herself. It's natural for an ambitious business developer's mind to race with the possibilities of what opportunities a relationship may bring. But to engender a long-term solid relationship, a business developer must subdue any selfish ambition and allow his or her genuine interest in other people to rise to the surface.

While I can't honestly say I've maintained a relationship with almost everyone I've ever known, I have practiced staying in touch with people over the past few years and re-engaging erstwhile connections gone cold.

Some examples come to mind:

I once interviewed for a job I didn't get. A few months later, I emailed the person who would have been my boss to check in on how the company was doing and wish them well. Now I know his company just folded, so he may be looking for a new job. I sent him an email offering to make any introductions I could if it helped.

About 2 years ago, I saw a listing for an event featuring a panel of business development folks. One of the names sounded familiar — someone I'd worked with at a startup about 12 years earlier. We have been in touch, but reconnecting would be nice. I took a guess at his email, shot him a note, and now we catch up every 6 months.

A friend of mine is interested in a job posting at a company, and she noticed I was connected on LinkedIn with the CEO. I recall having one or two exploratory partnership conversations with him, but I'd be surprised if he had any recollections of me. No matter, I told my friend I'd be happy to drop him a line to request an introduction. He might appreciate connecting with a viable lead for his company's corporate search. He responded within minutes.

How to Stay in Touch with Everyone

Staying in touch with people is relatively easy if you do it from the start.

Email check-ins: Maintaining a relationship only requires you to meet in person sometimes. Getting coffee two or three times a year? Delightful. Are you getting coffee every 6 weeks because you both promised to "stay in touch?""  quite a time drain. 

The simple act of sending an email to see how things are on their end and provide a brief update on what's wrong with you is sufficient to stoke the flames of a relationship and keep it from going cold.

Invite them to an event: One of the best things I've done was to start organizing small dinners for birthdays in NYC. We have 4-6 people over dinner, just chatting. I often invite people I want to connect with, but they benefit from meeting other like-minded folks at the table.

Offer introductions carefully: Offering to facilitate an introduction to someone that you believe can have legitimate benefit to someone is a great way to proactively offer value. As long as you respect their time with a double opt-in first.

Staying in touch is easy enough while the connection is still warm, but what do you do when the contact goes cold? 

How do you re-engage with someone you haven't spoken with in years? 

Haven't to reheat the connection.

Reheating Connections

Like Chinese food leftovers, there are two ways to reheat connections: slowly bringing them back to temperature as in a conventional oven or microwaving them.

Reheating a connection with the low-and-slow oven method takes time but can bring back the full flavor and texture of the original relationship. Reaching out to an old contact for no reason other than to say hello and ask how they've been is an excellent and neutral way to re-engage they've

The crucial element in the conventional oven method is the lack of any request. Being 100% focused on the personal relationship may not serve any short-term goals for winning deals. Still, it's a human element often missing in our professional lives. It's
 endearing to be asked to connect with a long-lost connection where there is no expectation of giving or getting on either side. Slowly warming up the relationship over time without an ulterior motive — perhaps with an email and then an introduction, with an event invite somewhere along the way– can organically restore a relationship to its original condition.

Microwaving Relationships

A faster but riskier alternative to reheating a connection is microwaving the relationship.

Microwaving is dangerous — just as microwaving some foods can turn them rubbery and gross, so too can you inadvertently nuke a cold relationship by trying to shortcut the cooking process.

A surefire way to turn a relationship to mush is to reach out to a cold connection only to ask for help. There is nothing more transparent or off-putting than a thinly veiled attempt to reconnect draped in a burdensome request for help ("Hey! Long time no see or talk! [Insert request here]").

If you're going to "microwave a relationship, the safest way is t" at least you'd like to offer value first. Giving before you get can help warm up a relationship over time, but when microwaving a relationship, aim to give while you earn. Providing some form of value — an article they may find interesting that brought them to mind, a listing for a job that you thought might pique their interest — in the same breath as making an ask may not take the stink off your intentions. Still, at least there is the potential for a mutually beneficial quid-pro-quo.

Being Hot and Cold

Is it sometimes comfortable to reheat a relationship? Absolutely. Just like public speaking, reheating a relationship is a practiced skill that you can nurture over time but may even cause some stomach jitters every time.

The good news is that, unlike public speaking, there is a viable way to refrain from regularly reheating relationships. Keep relationships warm from the get-go, and stay in touch with everyone.

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How to Stay in Touch with Everyone How to Stay in Touch with Everyone Reviewed by Hernani Del Giudice on April 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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