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What are some questions to ask when you call people in your network just to "stay in touch?"

It feels little weird to call if I don't have something specific to give the other person or a specific question.

Thanks.
Jon

juliahhavener's picture

Jon,

I call and ask how their spouse is doing (by name), how the kids' latest project went (by name), what's going on with their parents' health if I know something happened.

If I am 'calling cold', I ask how they're doing, what's going on at work, tell them what's up in my world, and see where I can connect the dots.

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="jonp"]It feels little weird to call if I don't have something specific to give the other person or a specific question.
[/quote]

I dovetail subsequent calls (or email messages) with information passed along by my contact. With a bit of preparation and a review of archived email messages I can often find a helpful factoid or experience.

The networking podcast is a tremendous benefit http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/05/building-a-network/

After a year of doing this I am discovering that more folks are reaching out to me (networking too?) or seeking advice and expertise.

juliahhavener's picture

The other thing I do to make this easier is keep notes in my contact information. Kids' names, birthdays, spouse name, birthday, items mentioned in previous discussions that were important to them. This makes it a LOT easier to remember to ask about Kate's recital, Michael's hockey league status, or the how the problem on Project A worked out.

MattJBeckwith's picture

I totally agree with Julia. I have no problem admitting that I don't have the greatest memory. I keep notes when I talk to people that are important to me. And, yeah, after many, many months of contact I probably don't rely on them as much but it helps to keep the who, when, where stuff straight.

If you keep notes, you'll find that you are calling at the perfect time... birthdays, anniversaries, during times of great importance (thanks for the call today, Rich!) which will only strengthen your relationships.

karaikudy's picture

In this part of the world, there is nothing like establishing contact with a person than to start Speaking Cricket (Even when talking to people in Pakistan) thats the greatest ice breaker. Yes, other specific incidents connected to business, specific situation could be a good way to reconnect. Yes, Politics is also a good way after major events. These give chance to reconnect from a totally blank situation.

Yes, for the first time contacts, introducing yourself and switching over the local language or part of India they come from (Can be judged mostly from the family name) could be a way to commence conversation. That way more Indian languages you know the better. (I speak 6 out of 22 official language, so that helps).

Yes, International contact the reconnection happens with greeting, speaking about the weather and jumping in to request or issue. Soon to switch to the issue the better. For international first time contact, the call happens after introductory email.

My 2 cents.

Karthik.

huntbk's picture

I'll be honest...if someone doesn't talk to me for six months and then calls to wish me a Happy Birthday, I'm not impressed. I have plenty of friends for that, I don't have time for that kind of chit-chat from people with whom I periodically do business.

I am more impressed if someone calls when they have some information that will actually improve my life or situation. Find an interesting article or web site to pass on, for instance. When I get off the phone, I want to be better off than before I answered it.

juliahhavener's picture

I should point out that my notes are for every-three-month contact. I generally wouldn't call to say 'happy birthday', but I might ask 'how was your birthday' after the fact or what their plans are if it's upcoming; that kind of thing.

If I know someone has an interest in a specific area, I will share it with them. I recently sent out a link of an artist who specifically does dance-related paintings to someone who is very in to ballroom dancing. I've sent Wendii's blog to people I thought would enjoy or find value in it.

It's all about adjusting to THAT person's needs, interests, and values.

Mark's picture

It can be as simple as, "Hey Allie, this is Mark. Hope you're well. I was just in Cincy meeting with Procter, and thought I'd say hello. How are you?"

"How are the kids?"

"How's work? You've been wanting more responsibility - what's going on there?"

"Are you ready for Christmas?" Family coming in?

Just listen to yourself when you meet friends and family this coming holiday season. THOSE are the questions to ask.

Mark

US101's picture

Excellent advice. Thanks everyone.

tlhausmann's picture

Continuing the thread....

When you contact someone, in this case by email, at what point do you stop the "stay in touch messages" when there is never a reply?

Advice is needed.

HMac's picture

Tom: I'll bite.

3 times. Then I cut 'em back.

So if it's quarterly and I haven't heard anything after 3 quarters, I drop 'em to the email equivalent of a "Christmas card list."

If it's twice a year and I haven't received any contact over the course of 3 tries (that's 18 months) - the same applies.

If it's less frequent than that, I recognize that they're really not that important to me (heck, I'm reaching out to them less frequently than twice a year...), and I assume the feeling is mutual. I choose to stay in the once-a-year mode, or I choose to stop.

-Hugh

cwatine's picture

Each time I enjoy :
- a book
- a movie
- a conference
- a joke
- a music
- a website
- an article in news paper
- a restaurant
- a trip
... I make the effort to think about who may be interested in it and I make a note in my bb's tasks.
It has become a reflex because it makes the "event" even more enjoyable when you know you will maybe make others enjoy it.

With amazon, you can send a book to a friend in 5 minutes. With emails you can send a link to an article (or better, a copy or a scan), a restaurant address, etc.

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="cedwat"]Each time I enjoy :
- a book
- a movie
- a conference
[/quote]

*smack* (Smacks forehead with open hand.) I can do that. I read a lot of books.

Thanks, cedwat. Spot on.

asteriskrntt1's picture

I don't think the intent of the staying in touch is to elicit a response. It is partially to keep you in their mind and keep that relationship going. I don't have a cut off.

And as for things to send, say, you can say or send anything. I am about to send out a nice article I found on the golfer, Arnold Palmer (and feel free to use this yourself).

http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/arniesrules

I am currently crafting the note to go with it...along the lines of ... these rules are not just for golf.... they are appropriate for most of our work and social situations. Keeping Arnold's version of "Do unto others" in mind can help us be better managers... (I know, needs work :wink: )

*RNTT

tomw's picture

[quote="cedwat"]Each time I enjoy :
- a book
- a movie
- a conference
- a joke
- a music
- a website
- an article in news paper
- a restaurant
- a trip
... I make the effort to think about who may be interested in it and I make a note in my bb's tasks.
It has become a reflex because it makes the "event" even more enjoyable when you know you will maybe make others enjoy it.

With amazon, you can send a book to a friend in 5 minutes. With emails you can send a link to an article (or better, a copy or a scan), a restaurant address, etc.[/quote]

I think there's a fine line between "keeping in touch" emails and spamming your contacts.

I'd be a lot less likely to send out every email, joke, or newspaper article I read and like.

cwatine's picture

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough.

I will send anything to anyone if I know him enough to be sure he will enjoy it or find it usefull.
I would never "spam" my entire contact list.

3 Examples:
- one of my ex-sales reps is on long-disease stop. I know he loves "thrillers" books. Each time I read an excellent one, I send it to him. He will get one per year from me even if I offer about 10 books per year in general.
- one friend is crazy about a certain kind of movie. If I see one, I dont call him. But when I call him to "say hello", I have a note in my task that mentions this movie.
- when I send an email about an article, a book, a restaurant, etc there are never multiple recipients. Always one. The text is special made for this person.

If I began to spam people, they would not even open one Email from me. It would be completely counter productive, the opposite of what I am trying to do..

Thank you Tom for allowing me to make things clearer. I realise how wrong my advice could be!

asteriskrntt1's picture

I just thought I would share the final version of my note that I just sent out to 750 or so people (35 bounced, 80 on vacation - lucky stiffs!).

One of the toughest things we do as professionals is build and maintain relationships. Building relationships is one of those skills people assume is natural but few excel at on a regular basis. Those who make the effort, either by leveraging their natural talents or working hard to develop them, tend to be more successful. In that vein, I recently came across an article about conducting oneself professionally from an unlikely source - golfing legend Arnold Palmer.

Arnold helped build the modern golf industry. Take a minute to view Arnold's comments about his rules for golf and conducting one’s self professionally. On the surface, some of these rules might not look transferable. However, with a little creativity, many of them apply equally in the boardroom, a staff meeting or the average social situation.

Here are two quick examples. Arnold talks about repairing the ground. In the corporate world, repairing the ground you play on can be a small thing like refilling the printer or copier after you have run off a few dozen copies of your stellar 200-page report. Another is not leaving the meeting room without cleaning the whiteboard or tossing those leftover donuts.

Being a silent partner can mean do not speak or text while others are presenting. One of my friends felt it translates to do not be late for meetings and cause a disruption with your entrance. However you interpret these, they are all valid.

Whether you are an experienced manager, trying to climb the ladder or are on the road of self-development, Arnold’s advice can help you keep your relationship skills and professional demeanor in the fairway. I hope you find this informative and useful.

http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/arniesrules

rthibode's picture

I just open with "I was thinking of you and thought I'd drop you a line ( or "give you a quick call") to say hi and see how you're doing."

asteriskrntt1's picture

That works too ;)

igniz's picture

[quote="US101"]What are some questions to ask when you call people in your network just to "stay in touch?"

It feels little weird to call if I don't have something specific to give the other person or a specific question.

Thanks.
Jon[/quote]

Just Saying Hi..
How's Life Doing..
Wanna have some party with me?

i dunno what to the exact answers for these questions. i'll also miss my folks. :(