How do you build meaningful relationships with your network?

Cultivating Meaningful Relationships

Support from my network makes me more successful

I’m so grateful for meaningful relationships with like-minded people who believe in me. When I am stuck or need help I can always find someone who not only understands my needs but wants to help me overcome obstacles and achieve more. As I have advanced my career, trusted connections in my network have helped me scout out the best opportunities, helped me with recommendations, and advised me at every turn.  When I want to learn a new skill, explore a new city, or take on any new adventure, my connections are (and always have been) there to shepherd me through it.  I build these meaningful relationships by consistently following-up with the people I meet and getting to know my most important connections better.  Since I’ve been doing this for about a decade I have a lot to owe to a lot of folks who have rallied behind me and gifted me with their friendship.  I have so much gratitude to every single person in my network and therefore it is my pleasure to follow up and keep in touch.

How to stay in touch for meaningful relationships

Email is a wonderful way to keep in touch and I love to talk on the phone, too. In the past few years I have used LinkedIn messages but also hand-written notecards to follow-up with people in my network. I’ve made new connections through this blog and my email newsletter. The challenge though has been remembering to keep in touch and more specifically, scheduling time to maintain contact. Life gets in the way and before you know it, here we are in December.

Don’t forget to follow-up

So how do you avoid missing the opportunity to follow up with someone important to you? I use a Customer Relationship Management system, Contactually and it costs me less than a dollar a day. Of course, I am not batting 1000 with my follow-ups and I am always struggling for inbox zero and afraid I will lose touch. I’m imperfect but Contactually makes me feel more at ease with that and reminds me to celebrate little wins, even just a few follow-ups a week and the metrics dashboard records my success and cheers me on.  Before I started using software to organize my contact database, I kept in touch with my previous co-workers, friends, and important business connections less frequently and it required a lot more effort.

Stay “top-of-mind” with your network

So for me, I found a system that worked once I was able to group my contacts into timeframes – determining how often to follow-up with each person in a group and doing it as consistently as possible.  A few examples:

  • I want to talk to my LinkedIn connections at least once a year
  • My meetup group I want to talk to at least once every 60 days
  • My old bosses, I reach out to them at least every 6 months
  • I go to an event and I want to ping new connections a week later, again a few months later, etc.

I don’t contact my connections just when I need something. I contact them at regular intervals to say hello and keep abreast of what they are up to.  I send them articles I think they might be interested in and I pass along updates I think they will like.  I have lots of other categories of contacts and each has their own ideal follow-up timeframe. There are also new contacts I make all the time and they have to fit in this schema. Then there are the people I haven’t met but want to get to know – people I read about in conference brochures or who write thoughtful industry-articles or publish interesting tweets. I was tracking all this in google contacts, calendar reminders, and spreadsheets and pretty quickly became overwhelmed.  Then I found Contactually and things were more simple.

Automate staying connected

When I signed up for Contactually they hooked in to my 6 email accounts (yes 6, you read that right) and their database magicians meticulously went through the previous 6 months of emails to present to me every single one of my contacts. I was just shocked by all of the lost connections they presented to me.  I had a blast reconnecting with all the people I thought I had done such a good job staying in touch with but had actually forgotten about.   Contactually also did me the favor of scraping all the email signatures to load up full contact details for everyone I know in one place.  Plus they check everyday and suggest to me any duplicates who might need to be merged or pruned. Everything stays neat and tidy and I always know who to contact next; I am not typically the one to drop the conversation.

They offer a beautiful gmail plugin and calendar integration. Every day I receive notice to follow-up with 3 people. Contactually knows who and when because I played a game to put all my contacts into reminder timeframe “buckets”.  It was actually kind of fun! Contactually also links in to all my important social networks so I can see in each contact’s profile their recent tweets, facebook messages, job changes on LinkedIn, and other info I might want to chat with them about when I contact them next.  I usually get a response to my emails but no need to check back because Contactually reminds me when someone has not responded and I can keep the conversation going by reaching out again as appropriate.

clinops toolkit contactually badge

Want to try Contactually?

I very infrequently offer up promotions on this non-commercial blog but today when I logged in to my dashboard at Contactually my favorite customer service representative told me they would give a special offer to any of my connections who tried their software. I thought that was pretty cool and that I could probably write a blog post about it.  They said I was so cool that they gave me access to their beta iphone app and they made me a certified partner!

So in exchange, I have decided I can share my networking email templates and I’ll personally set you up so you have success in your free trial.  So if you like the ClinOps Toolkit blog and you want to try one of my best productivity tools then you can follow my affiliate link and I will get a “tip” and you will get a free trial.

I’ve got your back, what can I do to help?

If you do try it and get stuck I want you to contact me for a tutorial or use the Contactually chat service to talk to their friendly customer service reps.  They have onboarding webinars running several times a week and lots of great how-to videos on YouTube.

If you liked this love-letter to my favorite 2014 productivity tool, please give it a try and also let me know what you think.  If you want to see more of the cloud-based software, gmail plugins, task-managers, and other software tools I regularly use, I would be happy to blog more about these topics. Just let me know in the comments what is of interest to you for 2015 and Happy Holidays!

About The Author

Nadia

Nadia Bracken, lead contributor to the Lead CRA blog and the ClinOps Toolkit blog, is a Clinical Program Manager in the San Francisco Bay Area.