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September 30, 2014

Nurturing isn’t just for sales leads anymore.

DiggingIf you work in this industry (or any industry, for that matter) for any length of time, you make all kinds of contacts… clients, vendors, people you meet at conferences, ‘friends’ on social media and so on. And for the most part, the people you meet are nestled in your CRM database or in your LinkedIn connections. You might also run into them in the fall during conference season and maybe they receive your e-newsletter every once in a while. And that’s about it.

But I received a reminder last week of the power of staying in touch – in a personalized way – to maintain and enhance relationships.

There is a sales professional in our industry (in fact, you probably know him) whom I’ve met only once or twice in person… but we stay connected, a little, through my e-newsletter and on social media. But yesterday I received a “personalized” note from him, checking in on me and my company and sending along a link to an online resource he thought I might like. And it’s not the first one of these he’s sent to me over the past few years.

Was it a note he sent to others? Probably… but it didn’t matter. His tone was friendly and completely non-threatening (he wasn’t trying to sell me anything). It’s as though he was talking directly (and only) to me. He even signed it, “Here to be a resource.” Are you kidding me?!

And you want to know the kicker? I don’t and can’t buy what he has to sell. But he’s smart enough to know that we work in a small industry where people know people… and at some point in the future, someone is going to ask me about providers of what he sells – and who do you think I’ll recommend?

Here’s the takeaway… set aside a little time every week or so to nurture relationships, even those that might not directly benefit you. You never know how people are connected to one another. And always use the opportunity to provide some sort of value. The time you spend will come back to pay dividends 10-fold.

Post script… there was a book published in 1997 called Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need by Harvey Mackay. Back before there was Twitter and LinkedIn, people used a Rolodex. And in his book, Mackay espoused taking the time (back then, with things like hand-written notes and clipping articles) to reach out and stay in touch with your contacts… because you never know when you might need them.

My friend has clearly taken that advice to heart… have you?

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