Monday, June 8, 2009

7 Valuable Ways of Keeping in Touch - Having gratitude and appreciation come your way all the time!

Networking is now acknowledged as a powerful way of opening doors to business and job opportunities.

How do you nurture a quality network? Keeping in touch is the key to cultivating real relationships instead of superficial ones.

How many of you have attended networking events where you collect hundreds of name cards but end up not keeping in contact with any of them? Networking is not just about exchanging business cards, but about keeping in touch and building long-term relationships.

In today's competitive environment, we are constantly being sold to, prospected, and marketed to. If your keeping in touch process is uninspired and self-serving, you will be relegated to the level of spam. One way to be truly memorable is to focus on embedding value in your keeping in touch process. It shows that you have taken the time to understand the other person's needs and interests, and will motivate him to reciprocate in the relationship.

Here are 7 ways to keep in touch by providing value:

1. Remember Birthdays
Everyone values their birthday, and will remember the people who send them birthday wishes (and often those who forgot). Birthday wishes are the poorer cousin of Christmas and New Year Greetings because many people focus on keeping in touch with their entire network with mass greetings on 2 days of the year. Keeping in touch is about being personal, not efficient. There is now no reason to forget someone's birthday with the availability of social networking tools such as FaceBook or websites such as birthdayalarm.com.

2. Celebrate Special Achievements
A businessman contact of yours may have been awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Don't forget to send him a congratulatory note! People are proud of their special achievements as this represents recognition of the results of their passion and dedication. You can keep abreast of special achievements of your contacts in the media, especially trade or club magazines. A hole-in-one, a promotion, a special appointment to a board of committee, even marriage is a special achievement. Acknowledging these achievements shows that you care about what matters most to them. Celebrating the anniversary of these special achievements, allows you to keep in touch in a special way every year.

3. Be a Connector
People are continually looking for contacts to help them in their job search, secure financing for their business, engage a quality accountant, lawyer, find the best specialist for their ailments or even a potential mate! A powerful way to build up your quality network is to be a connector. If you come across contacts that will be useful to your network, offer to link them up. However it is important that you treat your current network with respect and only link people up when there are obvious synergies.

4. Be an Information broker
Many of the corporate executives who attend my networking training programs ask me "If I am networking with the affluent, how do I add value to them, especially when they are already in a stronger financial position than me?" One of the most powerful commodities today is information. Many affluent people are starved for time, and your ability to provide relevant information to them would be appreciated. I discovered that people are most grateful for information that can help in their wealth, health and children. A timely stock market analysis report, an article listing proven solutions to alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome or information to help a child secure a place in school of choice can earn you grateful brownie points.

5. Email humour
There is nothing like a funny email joke or interesting video clip to perk up a workday afternoon. Please don’t take short-cuts and mass forward every remotely funny email you receive. It’s about taste and personalization. If you come across a hilarious video clip of Russell Peters, one of the world’s leading stand-up comedians, your contacts who you know appreciate his humour would be impressed that you remembered to send some comic relief their way.

6. Handwritten Cards
People rarely receive mail today that is not the form of a bill or official letter. A handwritten card with a personalized greeting instantly adds value as we all love pleasant surprises in the mail. The message can be a simple “Thank you” or “It’s wonderful meeting you, let’s stay in touch” The receiver will remember that you have taken the effort to make them feel special.

7. Create experiences
In today's recessionary economy, consumer confidence is at an all time low. However, the feel-good industry continues to do well as people indulge in uplifting experiences to escape from the pervasive negative reporting on television and the newspapers. Be a catalyst. Provide a unique experience to your network. Take the initiative of organising a themed party, a movie night, a wine-and cheese gathering, a dinner experience at a good restaurant. Be creative and you will be amazed at how grateful people are to a proactive host.

Keeping in touch is about taking action. I like the simple concept of following up with at least one person everyday.

Choose a variety of ways that work for you. Have fun adding value to your network and it will do the same for you.

2 comments:

Shankar said...

You could as well have called it "Networking for dummies" like me...great work Karen! Simple yet effective.

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