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If, like me, you want to improve your network, you might find yourself staring at a list of names you want to re-establish contact with, but stuggling to think of something relevant to say to them all.

Rather than write a sequence of impersonal, repetitive mails to them, I found it helpful to split them into manageable 'chunks' (I stick to less than 5 people) and give myself the task of contacting each 'chunk' next time some general event happens, something I can use as the trigger for contacting them.

For example, I have a list of people to contact just before the August holidays (Hi Jim, just off on holiday and it struck me how long it's been since I dropped you a line....).

Then  another five to contact just after the holidays (Hi Janet, just back from holiday and I realised I hadn't spoken to you in ages....).

Then another five to contact around the planned opening of a new business venture I'm involved with (Hi Bob, just made a few changes round here and it struck me how long it's been since I dropped you a line....)

I've found this makes the calls and emails so much easier to start, after which I can go into the Ctrl+Shft+K routine so beloved of Mssr's Horstmann and Auzenne (and, yes, so effective)

 

bug_girl's picture

As a poorly socialized scientist, tips like this with actual wording are really helpful. :)

I never know what to say, and having a starting phrase is really useful.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 The biggest barrier I found is the potential embarrassment factor of calling someone out of the blue for no apparent reason.  I've been on the receiving end of that a few times and often have found myself thinking "Why are they calling me now?  Do they want something?"  Mind you, in my experience, when someone has called me out of the blue for no apparent reason it usually has been they want something (usually to get me interested in some  MLM scheme, they've just lost their job and want me to find them a new one or their sales numbers are bad this quarter so they're trying to drum up some sales and thought I could put some leads their way).  That's kinda poisoned things for everyone by making me more cautious than I was.

 One of the things I really like about LinkedIn is that there's a built in reason to contact someone, "Hey, I just found you on LinkedIn.  Good to see you're doing well.  Did you know Bob is on here as well  Let's connect!"

Stephen

--

Skype: stephenbooth_uk (Please note I'm on UK time)

DiSC: 6137

Experience is how you avoid failure, failure is what gives you experience.

MsSunshine's picture

My experience is that everyone I contact is thrilled to hear from me.  Maybe that has helped me get over the initial guilt of losing touch.  So just do it!

I do two things.

  1. I'm never asking them for something on the initial contact.  Maybe I've just been lucky in doing this before I've actually needed my network!
  2. I always try to put in a personal touch.  Something like that we shared like "I'm getting ready to go on vacation to Florida and was thinking of the conference we went there together".  Or "My son is looking at colleges now and I remembered you're telling us about the road trips you took with Sarah".  If I think for a minute, I can usually remember something that we discussed
RichRuh's picture

Stephen--

Nothing wrong with connecting with someone on LinkedIn, and using that as your "touch point" of the quarter to stay in touch with someone.  It really doesn't matter how you connect- just that you connect. 

And then 3 months later, you'll need to find another reason to connect with them.  The problem with LinkedIn is that people have lots of connections and think they have a network.  You still need to do the work to keep in touch with that network, whether it's stored in LinkedIn or an paper address book.

As for the embarrassment factor... remember that people are different, and will probably react in a different way than you would.  You react with suspicion ("What do they want?"), while I'm ALWAYS glad to hear from old friends.  There's nothing wrong with either one of us, we're just different.  In this case it's highlighted by our "I" scores on the DiSC.  I'm 6-7-1-1. 

--Rich

BJ_Marshall's picture

I'll start make my contacts quarterly. I just listened to the "Rule of 50" cast, and I'm sure I can do this quarterly. I plan on creating to-do items recurring quarterly. I'll probably have to split them up into five e-mails a day for two weeks per quarter, but maybe I can do more e-mails in less time.

After the initial contact, I hope they'll return my e-mail with something interesting about themselves. I will copy/paste these interesting tidbits into the next occurrence of my to-do item concerning that person. So, if Brian tells me in July that he's planning on adopting a girl from the Philippines, then I'll put a note in my to-do item to ask him how the adoption process is going when I contact him again in October.

Has anyone else done anything like this? If so, I'm interested in how it's gone for you.

- BJ

RichRuh's picture

BJ, I use a Word document for the same purpose and it works great. 

The calendar program I use at work is unfortunately best avoided, but if I had a decent to-do system there I would prefer it over Word.

--Rich

mkirk's picture

Having moved organisations and IT systems three times in two years, plus into a different language, I have ended up using Remember the Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com) as a web based To Do system and I can recommend it.

Couple of caveats:

1 - You probably need to invest half an hour or so in learning how to use it (the shortcuts and stuff) then give it a week or so in operation before you decide. As with any new stuff, at first it seems easier to not bother to read the instructions but when I tried that, guess what? It didn't seem to work very well! Now, it does - QED.

2 - It can be tricky to sync it with your phone if you use Gmail as it conflicts somewhere.... it does work, but it took a while to sort out.

There are other web based products out there, so you can shop around, but I am generally pleased with RTM and have even bought the premium subscription now (the basic one is free, like MT)

Regards

Matt

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 Rich,

I may make the initial reconnect through LinkedIn but my network is separate from LinkedIn.  I use LinkedIn as more of an online way for people who may have known me in the past to find me and for making/maintain contact with recruiters, many of my connections aren't people I know well enough to consider them being 'in my network'.  There's even a couple of people in my connections who I'd quietly drop from my network for the 'time drain' reason I mentioned in my comment on Wendii's 'Finding Time' post.

 Those people in my LinkedIn connections who are also in my Network I contact anyway, and they'd be in my network whether they were on LinkedIn or not.  It's either just coincidence they're in both or LinkedIn happens to be the easiest way to contact them.

Stephen

--

Skype: stephenbooth_uk (Please note I'm on UK time)

DiSC: 6137

Experience is how you avoid failure, failure is what gives you experience.

Davis Staedtler's picture

I wish I had that discipline during the holidays! I'm still working on getting thank you cards out. Those have been the biggest and easiest wins for me so far. That and Twitter :-)

-D

 

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