In life, we keep meeting new folks in every day business and personal lives. We try to keep track of these people by entering contact details in MS Outlook for business contacts and in Apple Contacts for personal contacts (in my case). We do not have the time or focus to review these contacts and check to see when was the last time we interacted with a particular person.
The reason for inactivity when it comes to business contacts is not difficult to fathom – if we continue to do business with a business contact, then we keep meeting the person almost like every month at least. If we are not, then it only means that there is not much business activity between the two organisations. Slowly, the business contact who you had met quite some time ago, fades away from your radar and is rarely to be seen again. In my opinion, this requires a review as you should evaluate every business contact for his or her value, and reduce the importance to a lower level as the case may be – a business rolodex cannot be just ordered according to the alphabet (of either the name of the organization or the name of the business contact). It should have immediate importance and value for you to generate some fresh business lead or introduction to a prospect. So, it should be ordered accordingly.
In the case of personal contacts, the situation gets worse as most such acquaintances are driven by local connectivity rather than leverage a broader connectivity. What I mean here is that people in a specific location or area of a city oftentimes tend to get together for parties, and the proximity effect has big impact when the specific area has some big ticket condominiums with similar profiles of folks who would have got introduced at some business or social event. As people spread across a city or a country, it becomes more difficult to connect and network and build a relationship. If I look through the personal contacts (people that I have met mostly on social occasions and exchanged business cards with) list on my Apple, I encounter people that I have almost forgotten, or people who I met so long ago with no further interaction. It is strange, but that is the way it is, even in a small city like Singapore. You can then imagine the prospect of networking in a large country such as India or the U.S. Again, I eliminate folks who I have not interacted with in the past 3 years or so, and reduce the length of the contacts directory with more meaningful names.
In this process (both business and personal, more specifically personal), I identified a phenomenon which I knew intuitively but which has not coalesced up to my senses till now. It is simple – folks I had known from my old times and folks who are more mature, have always made attempts to keep in touch with me, and similarly I had the inclination to keep in touch with them almost continuously over the years in a proactive fashion. I am talking about a three decades-long experience, so there must be some truth in what I am discovering. The groups that I have been part of for a long time are still around and some of the members of these groups have been in touch with me directly. The “physical” groups that I have been part of are also active with an orientation towards its members and their well-being. In fact, we often seek out each other when we visit other cities or countries. My management school classmates are going to meet later this year at a port city in India for a long-awaited rendezvous. The success of such endeavours is based on interest level, good will, familiarity, and an utter lack of pecuniary considerations of any kind – there is just no motive other than to fondly interact and network.
I find this fascinating – I get calls from people who I know well but who have been away, and the connection is almost instantaneous with a desire to fill the gaps in each others’ lives. I have not seen business happening between personal contacts and I believe that it is probably the right thing. No point in introducing a motive for the connection or a specific interaction between two personal contacts, apart from the genuine desire to speak to each other on personal matters.
When I forward my blog posts to multiple groups, it signifies my desire to stay in touch with multiple folks at the same time. They may or may not read my posts, but they know I exist and I am quite active. I am just a phone call away. That keeps the vibe going in the group. Occasionally, I get a response from a group member, and it is an important event for me!
In a nutshell, I cannot emphasise the critical importance of “old” and “older” connections to the social well-being of oneself. We need to make all possible attempts to network and keep the association going forward. This will not only help us but also will help the person at the other end. I have always seen that folks who have been away for many many years are kind of emotional when they get back to their home city and meet their old class mates or friends – they had been missing the good old times all those bygone years!
I hope I am making sense – it is for you to “feel” what I am belabouring to explain.
Have a wonderful weekend folks,
29th June 2019