You work hard to make friends, but it is easy to lose touch with them. You move away from your childhood home and lose touch with many or all of your school friends. You move away from the city where you went to college or university and again you lose touch with people. You get extra busy with life, raising a family, building a career, and you neglect some of your friends. It seems to happen to most of us in varying degrees.
As a professional, you work hard to establish business relationships, but in exactly the same way as with personal contacts, it can be very easy to lose touch with those people. You change contracts, move geographies, get wrapped up in big projects and before you know it years have passed since you last talked to many of your contacts.
Maintaining relationships with people takes effort, but that effort is worth it if you can retain those relationships over the long haul. With a larger network of current contacts, you’re more likely to hear about upcoming contracts, get inside information to land the next contract, find partnership opportunities, and have a support network when working on complex projects.
Here are some ideas for keeping in touch with your network:
- Make lists (a good time management habit!) You might have several lists:
- the like-minded contractor list;
- the recruiter list;
- the current clients list;
- the ex-clients list;
- the friends and family list.
If you are really organized you might use a CRM like tool, or a contact manager.
- Decide your various contact strategies for these lists.
- Holiday cards
- Birthday cards
- Hand written notes
- Dinners, lunches, breakfasts or coffees.
- Information specific to them based on hobbies, their career, other interests or your joint history.
- Set aside time regularly to make sure you execute on your plan.
- Use your calendar to make sure you track important dates.
- Plug time into your schedule, in your calendar, to spend with the important people in your life.
Although you are an “independent” contractor, the truth is, success is easier to come by when you have a wide network of like-minded professionals and friends. As you get busier, it is easy to let things slip, and relationships can “go stale” pretty quickly! Do you take time to build relationships? If so, what strategies do you use to maintain your network? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.