I'm frequently asked about the best ways to keep in touch with your network, particularly when our schedules are so tightly packed. There are a number of approaches that make up an effective relationship-building strategy, including one to one meetings and proactive use of social media, but often the simplest approaches are the most powerful.
Regular light touches, just to show the other person that they are in your mind, can have a tremendous impact. The key is that those touches must be about your contact, not about you. It can be tempting to send a regular email with an update about what has been happening in your life or business, but that can easily become impersonal and will often struggle to touch the other person and show you're thinking of them.
If you know the people in your network and their interests then you can truly personalise your follow up to them. Read general interest magazines and blogs (I subscribe to The Week, a weekly digest of world news and columns, as well as regularly reading The Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review and a number of other blogs) and you will frequently find something of interest to other people in your network. Clip or scan the piece, or copy and paste the link, and send it across using the magic words, 'I saw this and thought of you'.
It may just be a simple thing for you to do but you can often make a big impression.
Earlier this week I was driving to the train station and listening to the radio. Jeremy Vine was speaking to Ken Bruce about the press conference held by researchers at The University of Leicester to confirm the discovery of the remains of the last Plantagenet King, Richard III.
Jeremy Vine was criticising the organisers for holding back the main news at the press conference. He explained that they wanted to build up to the big announcement but were derailed when news came through halfway through that senior LibDem MP Chris Huhne had announced that he was pleading guilty in a court case and was resigning his seat in Parliament. Naturally, the interest of the assembled journalists and cameras was diverted and the moment had passed.
My good friend Alan Stevens is a well renowned Media Coach who advises companies on how to engage with the media in the best possible manner. Alan likes to share and comment on topical stories relevant to his expertise and this was a natural fit. I called him straight away and shared the story. Alan has also recently sent me the draft of his new book for an endorsement and I was able to give him some feedback on the book at the same time.
Just a few minutes later, Alan posted in The Professional Speaking Association Group on Facebook:
It was a natural call for me to make. It took me seconds of 'dead time' (as I was parking my car and then walking to the station) and yet it clearly had a powerful effect on Alan, further strengthening our relationship.
There is no excuse not to make such calls or send across such information to your network. When you read, when you see, when you hear, think about other people and not just yourself. If you do that, and make it a habit, opportunities such as this will keep on presenting themselves.
And when they do, share them. With the simple message, 'I saw this and thought of you'.
*You can read the blog Alan wrote as a result of my call here