• Sumo

Isn’t it nice to have a call from an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while? In this time of social media and electronic communication, it seems real contact with people is becoming rare.

We keep in touch with a post, a tweet or an email, but “let’s meet up for a coffee…”, is this appropriate in the modern day, or old fashioned?

Personally, I like to see the whites of their eyes. But how do we really keep in touch with our (hopefully) ever-increasing network of friends and contacts?

In business, it does seem appropriate to use electronic communication. It is time efficient and we can reach a lot more people. But we can also think of our keyboards and devices as hiding places. “I’m too busy to go out and meet someone face-to-face” is an excuse, not a reason.

I recently saw a post from an old friend and business contact that caught my eye. I don’t always see her posts, so it was a reminder as well as an interesting post. I pinged back with a bit of a catch-up message. The reply….”great, good to hear from you.” I’m none the wiser or the timing was inconvenient for a full typed response, so I picked up the phone. 25 minutes later, we are up to date with each other’s progress and a piece of business resulted as well.

The contact in question is in Seattle, so a coffee (even though it is the home of Starbucks) was impractical in this case, but at the very least a voice-to-voice made the difference. (The phone call was via Skype!)

From the perspective of this being a business article, the salient point was the resulting business of course. But the principle applies to personal relationships just as much.

When I talk to business owners about their “list” we land up talking about the number of prospects (or suspects) they have. But all too often, they ignore the arguably even more valuable list of business contacts.

Those who network regularly know a lot of people. You may work with or keep in contact with those in regular network groups, but do you really connect with them? How often do you talk to others you have met through business? As The Linked In Man, James Potter, says “talk to people, it’ll never catch on”.

My recommendation, review your extended list of business contacts and schedule time to catch up with the each, individually. Why? So they have you in mind when they next meet your ideal customer, of course.

We know that referrals are the best and most economical source of new business. I’m sure you keep in touch with your clients and past clients in order to be receptive to referrals. For people you haven’t actually done business with, I would call connections as “introductions” rather than “referrals”, but they are the next most valuable leads. It is all about being front of mind when the occasion arises to make an introduction.

Many of the contacts on your extended list and many of your contacts perhaps on Linked In etc., are from previous jobs, previous lives. Never mind, they will remember you for what you “did” but great for them to know and understand what you are doing “now”.

Sure, if you cannot manage face-to-face, then Skype, if you cannot manage Skype then voice…they tell me that is what phones are for (now that is an old fashioned idea).