It happens, it happens to all of us in fact. Even in business. For one reason or another you just stop talking, and with each day that passes, it gets harder and harder to reinitiate contact. In our personal lives this is just a bit sad, but in the realm of business contacts, this is something you may want to avoid.
Of course, trying to maintain every contact in your address book is going to be a bit of a challenge, and is sometimes a bit impractical. There will be times when you just won’t need to keep in contact with certain figures anymore, or they’ll no longer have need to keep in contact with you. Your needs and priorities may change, contacts may move careers and are no longer relevant, or you may find new contacts that work better for you than old ones. These you can safely let go.
But there will be contacts you may want to keep a hold of because they’re always useful or you suspect they may be useful further down the line. How do you keep these contacts fresh in your address book, and how do you stop that inevitable drift that sometimes occurs?
Make It a Habit
As with all these sorts of things, maintaining contacts is a skill that you have to practice and a habit you need to sink in to. Make it a point to regularly check in on your address book at certain intervals, say once every two weeks, and send messages to people you’d like to keep in contact with.
You can also set aside small portions of your day to dedicate to smaller, less direct means of keeping in touch with your network, which we’ll discuss further on down the page.
Create and Share Content
If your contacts are following you at all, whether on Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog, or anything of that sort, then it’s important that you keep regular with your content. Try to write or produce something frequently, preferably something related to your field. Try to write a tweet twice or thrice a day, try to write a blog post or an article once a week, take part in a podcast.
The point here is to keep yourself at the forefront of your contacts mind and prevent yourself from being forgotten, which is also why it’s important to keep things work-related. That way if ever a contact has need of something relevant to you, you’ll be among the first people they think of.
It doesn’t even have to be your own work – sharing something you’ve found online can also be useful in this regard.
Keep Friendly on Social Media
We do not usually recommend spending time on Facebook or the like when you’re at work, there are some things you can do on social media that is relevant to work. In this context, sending your professional contacts the occasional thumbs up.
If someone gets a promotion, or writes and shares a particularly good article, or tweets about a major milestone in their work, something as simple as commenting “Great work!” or “Congratulations!” can go a long way to keeping yourself in your contacts’ good graces. It takes very little work for a great pay off.
Set Up Alerts
There are many apps you can download and use to help keep you on top of your contacts and their doings. More sophisticated ones, like Covve’s address book app, can even give you updates on your contacts and send reminders whenever you’ve not spoken to them in a while, which can help you if you accidentally neglect promising contacts.
Setting up some sort of alert or notification to keep you up to date on your contacts doings, such as posting messages on their social media, or timed alerts reminding you to send messages to them, can help keep you on top of managing your contacts.
A particularly useful thing to watch out for is someone’s birthday. A small, personal message can really help keep you in people’s good books.
Paradoxically, sometimes giving someone space is the best way to keep them close. Bombarding your contacts with messages, alerts, shared items, and funny cat videos is a good way to get a little annoying, after which you may find contacts are reluctant to talk to you at all. Knowing when to back off and give people space is an excellent skill to learn.
Remember that you’re all professional busy people. Often everyone will be suffering from tight deadlines, new projects, or unexpected hiccups and just don’t have the time or the energy for being social.
Do not isolate yourself from them, naturally. But respect their space and do not impose. Send messages with a line assuring them they don’t have to reply immediately, or at all. If you’d like to discuss something in depth, invite them to suggest a time where they’d be able to do it. This shows respect for them and their workload and can be greatly appreciated.