Tips on getting back in touch with contacts and for keeping close to them in the first place.

All those former clients, colleagues, friends and classmates – where are they when you really need them? We are all guilty of letting relationships slip away, and of trying to make an awkward reappearance when we need them again. But it has got to better to try to reconnect than to let an opportunity slip away. To help you, here’s some useful advice on reintroducing yourself gracefully courtesy of the Harvard Business Review - 'How to reach out after losing touch'.

When we lose touch with people, the largest lost opportunity comes from losing touch with clients. We all know the stats about it being harder to bring in a new client than to keep an existing one, but we still let it happen for a variety of reasons. So here are a few suggestions to prevent it from happening in the future.

Let’s start with some easy wins:

  • Include the contact on any appropriate firm mailing lists so they automatically get some reminders of your existence. But take it one step further. Right after a briefing or newsletter is sent out is an ideal time to pick up the phone to follow up, make sure they saw it and discuss what it means for their business. Your email marketing program should be able to tell you in advance what communication they have read and the issues of greatest interest to them.

  • Send them news stories and articles that will interest them. Alerting all your contacts about a suggested reading takes mere seconds on LinkedIn or Facebook. For a smaller number of contacts, send them the article in an email along with a personalized note.

What else can be done? How about:

  • Arrange for some introductory meetings with some of your other clients or business contacts who would benefit from meeting each other. You won’t be forgotten if the meeting produces some worthwhile business connections.

  • Follow what’s happening with your clients. Social networking tools make it easier than ever to keep up to date with your clients and their business. Follow them on Twitter. Add them as contacts on LinkedIn. Set up a Google news search so you are notified each time they are in the press. Taking an active interest in their business and following up with something appropriate such as a note of congratulations will demonstrate your long-term commitment to your working relationship.

Most importantly, use your CRM system or Outlook to keep track of your interactions with the clients. Keeping some notes in the system about what you talked about the last time will make it easier to pick up the phone and reconnect. And here’s the key bit. Use the system to set reminders to get in touch. And do it. Each day you put off getting back in touch makes it that much harder. How often should you be in touch you ask? Good question and there is no set answer. What you can’t do is set the same objectives for each client you have. A select number of critical relationships may be ever week or every month and involve a telephone call or face-to-face time. Others contacts might only receive your newsletter every few months. It’s up to you to decide. To make sure it happens; try getting into the habit of reviewing your contact lists every Monday morning and selecting 5 contacts to touch base with that week. One a day, that’s not so hard is it?

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