The fortune is in the follow-up is a line I’ve both heard and repeated many times coming from a sales background. And it’s true. Research shows it’s more effective to work with a client you’ve already established a relationship with, rather than go after new business.
But I’m not just talking about business when I speak of your fortune. To me, personal relationships in the way of family and friends are the most valuable to reduce stress and increase joy. Yet, many of us get consumed by life and the follow-up drops down the list. We focus on what we consider to be more urgent tasks and never quite get around to it … or them — similar to that diet that was going to leave us svelte by summer.
No matter how good our intentions, without a system to stay connected to everyone from your family to your friends, your colleagues to your clients, it’s just not going to happen in today’s non-stop world. Here’s three key strategies to make follow-up happen:
1.Create a hit list you can access. Think through the categories of your life and figure out who brings you joy, laughter, opportunities, business or whatever you deem important. Who do you want to serve or support? Keep your list accessible in a CRM, notebook, spreadsheet, or LinkedIn group so it’s easy to reference.
2. Determine timeframes. How often do you want to reach out or see your peeps? This could be quarterly for some clients or weekly for a walking buddy. Is it once a year in the form of a birthday card to a distant friend or former co-worker?
For five of my girlfriends, it’s yearly and I deem our list “The Six-Pack” which shows how long we’ve been hanging (pre-wine). This yearly rendezvous began as a result of my discouraging them from attending my wedding. Unlike most women, I never dressed my Barbie’s as brides, nor wanted a big ceremony. My ideal wedding would have been Elvis Chapel in Vegas, but I compromised – the first of many. When I found out they were all planning to attend, I encouraged them instead to come for a long weekend following my honeymoon (he had to leave) so we could connect. Rather than leave it at, “This is so much fun we should do this again!” we committed to this happening, and shared 19 years of gatherings. Since then, we still make it a point to gather when possible, but we found the yearly trips too difficult to coordinate as our lives took on even new responsibilities and one friend moved overseas.
3. Block and book the time. Sure, vacations with family or friends are great, but connection doesn’t have to cost you a dime, only your time. We certainly learned that during the pandemic when we utilized FaceTime, WhatsApp or Zoom to visit with others. Currently, I have a standing monthly 60-minute Zoom with an incredible colleague I met at last year’s conference. We vowed to stay connected and together we’ve honored our word. Choosing a specific block of time or day each week to reach out to your rotating hit list ups the likelihood it happens. My mother, turning 88 in a couple of months, receives a Saturday morning call from me. This ritual started in college and has never stopped, even though some weeks I call more often.
Yea, yea, I know I’m not telling you anything you already don’t know. But what you don’t know is when life is going to knock you off your feet. In those moments, it’s usually your relationships that not only break your fall, but help you get up and go forward again. They’re worth a fortune, so follow-up.