If you’ve ever heard me speak, I often coach my audiences to get in the business of following through (a process) vs. simply following up (often a transaction). Following up is sending someone an email. Following through is calling them to make sure they received the email, gage whether it was of interest and value, and identifying other opportunities to improve their condition (outcome). I’ve long believed few ever follow up; even fewer ever follow through to ensure that their efforts in fact created the desired outcome in the exchange of value in the relationship.
As you can imagine, I’m blessed to meet a lot of interesting people in any given year in three unique buckets: me and my family, for-profit, and non-profit. Each is equally important to me and thanks to a mentor years ago, I’ve learned to throw away my stopwatch and get a compass – which means, making time to equally invest in all three. So, it’s incredibly aggravating to me to meet these fascinating people and then not reconnect with them. I assure you, it’s not lack of interest. So, I’ve begun to ask myself, document, and hypothesize why we don’t follow up or through and recommend three simple steps.
Here are the common traps I fall into in not reconnecting with people who are important / of interest or value to me:
- I get busy with the urgent and not the important – so bandwidth is a big one;
- I get distracted with the next engagement or event and it’s not that I forget about that stack of cards or that email, it’s just that I have to keep moving forward with the next commitment;
- Time goes by and I begin to wonder, “will they even remember me from a week, a month, or three months ago?”
Do you ever find yourself in these traps or feel the same? So, here are three simple tips I’ve come up with and try to practice everyday (keeping in mind that it’s not about perfection; it’s about progress – so I’m aiming to improve every day!):
1. Block off Mon AM & Fri PM – specifically to prioritize and plan the week, and to recap the week and think ahead about next week. I’ve found that if I don’t overbook my calendar with commitments, I can make time to think, call, email, send personal notes, etc. In essence relationship investments I want to make vs. busy work I have to do!
2. Make Daily S-U-G Lists – Serious (what is so serious that if I don’t do it, it’ll hurt me), Urgent (what is so urgent that if I don’t do it, it will become serious and hurt me) and Growth (what can create upside opportunities for me). Silly to work on Growth when the house is burning down with Serious or it’s about to with Urgent matters or relationships!
3. Leverage Dead Times – We all have dead times throughout the day; waiting for a flight, car rides, early am, late in the day on the road. Find them and leverage them. I am leaving voicemails for people late in the day so they get it first thing the next day. I am sending brief voice memos vs. detailed emails. I reach out to old friends when I’m traveling to see if they have time to meet for coffee, therefore cloning my time!
Bottom line: we make time for people and things that are important to us. Don’t beat yourself up to; just aim to improve on how and why you do what you do on a daily basis! After all, you can’t improve anything you don’t measure, analyze and make course correction toward.
Make it a great week.
If you’re anywhere near Greensboro, NC, you need to join us for this event on Fri, Dec. 6th at the Technology Center. Not to be missed as I’ll review key insights from the Relationship Economics book, as well as share new findings in the #NewNorm framework…