About two years ago, I had a friend who crossed my mind… Actually, I don’t know if you can even call him a friend. We had a bunch of mutual friends so I would see him at get togethers and I think I only had one REAL conversation with him… So it was weird that he randomly crossed my mind. I didn’t think anything of it and brushed it off. A few days later, he crossed my mind again and I ignored it… again.
The next day, I woke up and logged into Facebook like I normally do (I know, bad habit but it’s my guilty pleasure)… and I kept seeing ‘RIP Gaetan’. Turns out, he was leaving work in the middle of the night.
He was t-boned by a drunk driver and killed on impact.
I bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t believe it… And I felt even worse because he had crossed my mind so many times and I completely ignored it. After that, I wrote handwritten notes to the people closest to me to let them know how grateful I was for them and since then, I’ve made a much bigger effort of keeping in touch with the people who mean the most to me.
That said, it took me a while to figure out a system that worked so that I could keep in touch with them without getting overwhelmed or burning out so this post was written to share those tips so your friends and family can stop posting meme’s on Facebook like this about you…
How to Reconnect with Your Community
THE INITIAL RECONNECTION.
Firstly, you can’t expect them to reach out first… They’re busy too.
A phone works two ways… You’re absolutely right. However, here’s the thing… It’s your community, so you be the leader and take control of it.
For my initial reconnect touch, I love to reach out via text or social media. If it’s someone that you used to be close to, reach out with something simple like, “Hey, you just crossed my mind and I thought I would reach out to see how things are going with you. What’s new and exciting in your world?”
If they are someone who wasn’t that close to you but you’d like to reconnect, find a way to contribute value related to their interests. For example, let’s say you have a photographer friend who you think would be great to have in your network… Start with a genuine compliment and acknowledge their hard work and be specific about your compliment (what photo shoot did you admire the most and why?).
Let them know that you’d like to learn more about what they’re doing and what their passions are so that you can figure out if there’s anything you can do to help them.
I’ve also started adding a little p.s. like “don’t worry, I don’t want anything from you, I literally just wanted to see how you’re doing.” I found that my initial message wasn’t getting a whole lot of responses because here in South Florida, there are way too many people trying to recruit to network marketing companies. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, I just don’t want them to think that I’m trying to recruit them.
Once I started adding that little message, the response rate increased and a lot of people would respond like “lol, no worries! Everything is great.” Your goal in that initial conversation should be to pin down a time to get together over lunch or coffee. You’ll build so much more rapport and trust if you’re in person.
(Heads up: you’ll probably need to confirm your meeting the day before and the morning of so that they don’t forget and you don’t get stood up!)
GET FROG-Y STYLE.
Even if it’s someone that you know really well, keep the conversation on them.
We only show parts of ourselves to certain, so since you’re trying to build a better relationship, focus on getting to know the parts of them that they may not have shown you before.
The best way to do this is to focus on their FROG — family, recreation, occupation and goals, and learning about them by asking powerful questions. When you focus on FROGing them, you’re going to learn what drives them and what’s most important to them. Go three deep in each of your questions and stay in curiosity.
Make sure that you’re staying out of judgment — even if you think you’re hiding it, you’re not hiding it as well as you think. When people feel judged, they don’t open up to you. To help you with this, I wrote a whole article that talks about the new rules of small talk and how to use the FROG questions, with examples.
KEEPING IN TOUCH.
After your initial meeting, put them on a follow-up plan so that you can actually stay in touch.
First things first, you need to have an initial follow-up. I love to send a handwritten note just to thank them for taking the time to meet me. It’s such a small gesture but goes such a long way. If there was anything you promised to do during your meeting (email them something, introduce them to someone, etc.) make sure that you actually do it.
After the initial follow-up, the most important part of doing this is to make it automated and systematic so that you don’t have to think too much about it.
If you have to think about it, you’re probably not going to do it.
Here’s a super simple system that I’ve found to be easy to follow and useful…. There’s 30 days in a month and 26 letters in the alphabet, so you’ll break down your network based on first name. By default, some letters just aren’t as popular when it comes to names, so to make it super simple, you’ll reach out to your community based on their first name and which day it is. On Mondays, you’ll do 2-3 letters and the rest of the days (Tues-Fri) will be just one letter. Below, you’ll find a worksheet that breaks this down in a visual way to make it super simple to follow and to always know who you need to be talking to.
To keep people from getting overwhelmed, rotate the method you use to reach out. This way, it makes it less overwhelming for them and you touch more than one of their senses.
I love to rotate between calls, texts and social media interactions (I’ve also written a whole article about how to use social media to maintain your relationships and a video tutorial that walks you through the steps of creating lists on Facebook and Twitter that I think will also help you get clarity on this).
Using this system, you’ll talk to your entire community 12 times per year without overwhelming them and will have built really great relationships, with little effort.
If this sounds overwhelming, keep in mind that you probably only have less than 150 people in your community that you’ll actually want to keep in touch with on this plan. That’s basically 5 people a day (and some of those days will be less because not that many people’s names start with X or Z).
PLANNING YOUR TOUCHES.
The last step is to plan out your interactions for the year.
If planning it out feels ingenuine, just remember that these are templates for you to reach out with. You can always customize them during your conversations.
For example, I alternate my calls between business and personal.
During the first quarter of the year, I call them to learn about their goals for the year. It’s one of my favorite calls to make because I am always looking for opportunities to help them. The last call of the year is a gratitude call. Simply put, I’m just letting them know that I’m grateful to have them in my life.
The other two calls are usually about real estate. The variety between the calls ensures that I’m not always asking them for favors and they will actually pick up when I call.
The more you plan this out ahead of time, the more likely you are to get it done and the easier it will be to do.
I’ve prepared a mini workbook that will help you remember who you need to be talking to on which days and will help you plan each of your interactions.