Lately, I have been in situations where customer service representatives are amazed at the number of contacts in my address book. These conversations caused me to think about how and why I’ve done this.
I’m in the business of public RELATIONS so I’ve never thought it was all that odd I had more than a couple thousand contacts.
On the other hand, I’ve also worked hard to maintain these relationships…some for more than 30 years. Here are four tips for maintaining and building relationships.
The first 15 years of my career were spent in food public relations. That means the people I met were all related in that they worked in one aspect or another of food – communications, product development, farming, etc. (there was also that sidebar to wool/fashion folks). Many of these people knew each other already, or I could pair them to create mutually beneficial programs. Over the years we made friends. I kept track of the relationships on my Rolodex, and in my address book.
Staying in Touch
My friend Bruce Pozzi, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an expert at maintaining relationships. He taught me to send interesting articles and tips to people I wanted to stay in touch with. I even have a little piece of paper with my logo on it. I can write a very short note, attach it to an article with a sticky dot and send it off to my client, prospect or friend. Today, I might also use email, but snail mail can have more impact.
I keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and such for many of the friends I’ve met over the years. This is easier today because of Facebook, but I have them in my online calendar. They’re set to “beep” enough ahead of the special day I can send a snail mail note or gift. It’s the little things that count so I try to be a bit unique in my remembrances.
I worked for a politician in the mid ‘80s who had a set of cards he used to remember people. This was before computers, so creating and maintaining the cards was time consuming. They were fairly detailed as each listed personal contact information, spouses and family, how they first met and each time they met thereafter (well, maybe not each but most). I’m not quite as detailed in my records but most of my contacts do say where/how I met the person and how they are connected.
As soon as you can after meeting someone, put their card into your computer along with a note about where you met them. Also, send an email – or even better a handwritten card – saying how great it was to meet them. It’ll make you stand out from the crowd.
Power of the Handwritten Note
Several of these tips involve handwritten notes. I can’t underestimate the power of a handwritten note today. Sending them after a small gather, a meeting or any occasion will help you stand out from the crowd. Keep a stash of birthday cards and thank you notes handy so you can send a variety of messages. I even made some cards from pictures of my flower garden. They come in handy, as do my personalized cards. If you’re looking for high quality but relatively inexpensive personalized cards, contact Beth at Bliss Folio.
Most of all, just start to keep better track and take a few minutes to remember folks. It will pay off in the end in so many different ways.
Image: Cambelj45ca via Flickr, CC 2.0