New relationships typically come in large batches, whether it’s from trade shows, conferences, personal referees, or even starting a new position. Slowly but surely, these new relationships start to compound until you have hundreds of contacts and a massive backlog. We are additionally accustomed to building new, meaningful relationships with our most recent contacts, making it even more challenging to stay in touch with those pre-existing relationships! This backlog can undoubtedly be overwhelming to all but the most social of butterflies.
Have no fear, as all is not lost! There are ways to navigate the storm. This article will provide you with a simple exercise to help you sort and categorize all of your friends and colleagues. The intention is that at the end of this process you will have identified your “high-value” relationships, and create a template to monitor your communication with all of your contacts.
Firstly, you’re going to want to get comfortable, open up your favourite spreadsheet program, and set aside a dedicated hour for this task.
Sit down and consider all the people you know in your professional network, and write them all in one consolidated space. This will take time, especially considering the number of contacts that you have! Use every platform available to you to find every appropriate contact: your email list, phone contacts, Facebook friends list, etc. Include, as well, any recent acquaintances you have met that you would like to speak with again. Add your relationships into columns labeled “In-House,” “Third-Party,” “Alumni,” and so on, in the spirit of true organization.
Now highlight those that you believe are the people that are profoundly meaningful to you in some fashion, that you either do contact or wish to contact the most often. Do your best to apply the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule… who is in the “top” 20% of your contacts? Try to spread them out amongst columns to take a more holistic and overall approach to this exercise. These are the people that which you should dedicate 80% of your time and mental resources. The nature of your high-value relationships is that they need more constant and deeper interactions in order to continue a prosperous growth.
Take some notes about these relationships! Who is this person, what do the two of you have in common? These notes will work to help you organize your thoughts and feelings, as well as assisting you with better scheduling get-togethers. Do your best to set reminders about these relationships… once a month to drop in and see how they are doing and what’s new in their life (if you don’t already see them in your day to day!).
For the remaining 80% of your contacts, do your best to fill in some basic information as well… it will help provide context for you regarding scheduling emails or phone calls. The number one rule is to always say happy birthday!
Use this spreadsheet to monitor the contact that you have with them and when. Use this in conjunction with your calendar to set reminders! Unfortunately, things can get a bit tricky regarding tracking, especially when you consider group chats and emails. Do your best to only log personal, one-on-one conversations.
Although this process is work-heavy and can seem overwhelming, it is a necessary evil. By organizing and prioritizing your relationships in one controlled document, you’ll have a one-stop shop for any time that you need to brush up and send your emails!
At UpHabit we are working diligently to bring you an app that lets you bypass this process with a streamlined system that will help you stay on top of the relationships you have, as well as the ones to come. Read more about us here, and sign up here for news of our beta launch.