Are you a PR pro who can connect your clients, friends, and colleagues with the people they need to know? Or, do you wish you were? Today it’s more and more important you can connect people and places.
Over the past nearly 40 years I’ve been involved in the business world I have built and maintained relationships. I’ve done this because I love to meet and learn about others. I’ve also done it because I want to stay in touch with people I like. But there’s also a business reason.
Recently I went to a conference for a group I used to chair. I hadn’t seen the members in many moons, but we treated each other warmly and reconnected immediately.
Last fall, my family moved from Alaska to Washington state. Since arriving, I’ve been reconnecting with people I have known since childhood, college, or met professionally through PRSA. All these folks are important to me personally but will also help me grow my counseling business.
It’s important because in today’s business world where boundaries are no longer geographic, the people you know, who care about you, and understand what you do are even more important than they used to be.
So how do you start?
You need a contact database. It doesn’t have to be complicated but keep an address book of some kind. Mine syncs data on my computer, phone, and tablet. I have pertinent data about each person including birthdays, anniversaries, spouses and children, how we met, and other notes about the person’s background. It’s like a mini LinkedIn. I work hard to keep it updated and recently upgraded to BusyContacts which is an excellent program if you’re on a Mac.
How to keep the relationships going
It’s pretty simple – stay in touch. Send holiday cards with a personal note. Send birthday and anniversary cards – the paper kind. Congratulate your friends when they do something cool, even if it’s not that big a thing. Show them you’re thinking about them.
How to maintain?
In addition to the suggestions mentioned to keep things going, I try to scan my contacts occasionally to see who I haven’t heard from recently. Then, I’ll reach out to that person to have coffee (even if it’s over the phone) to see how they are doing. It shows them I care and want to stay in touch. You have to do more than “like” their posts on Facebook. Instead, write a comment or send a message. Most of all, be authentic.
Pay it forward
Paying it forward may sound trite but if a friend needs help, help them. If someone needs a referral, give them your contact’s name. Need a housekeeper? I’m happy to share. In Anchorage, a friend kept an indispensable list of craftsmen we all needed. The people on the list got business referrals because each was recommended by individuals who could vouch for the quality of the work.