I was thrilled to attend a fantastic one-day event in Vancouver, BC yesterday led by Michael Port, the "guy to call when you're tired of thinking small."
I met Michael two years ago at a conference and was pleased to keep in touch to know about the many interesting and helpful programs for service providers to learn how to Book Yourself Solid, among other things.
He was generous to give me a moment to stand up among 100 or so colleauges and explain how I have been successful in connecting to others, and gave me an incredible endorsement for my method of keeping in touch with him over the years. He said it was very personal and he even wondered if other people received the same "treatment" in my follow through.
They do, as long as they are one of my 75 "circle of influence" colleagues. I'll explain.
I inherited the connection gene from my mom, I believe. She passed on four months ago this past week - of lung cancer. I was devestated but have focused on the positives she gave me - and one of them was the lesson of keeping connected.
Every Christmas, she would send each of her five kids one of those free Hallmark Cards pocket calendars - with stars on the days for everyone in the family's birthdays and anniversaries. I think she lapsed one year, but got the request the next year on how hard it was to keep track of special days from one of her family.
She also purchased two daily newspaper subscriptions - one to read and one to cut up (I don't know why she couldn't accomplish both with one subscription, but she was a bit quirky for sure). If you told her that you liked knowing about frogs, or conservation, or travel to Italy, she would search the paper and every day clip out articles and mail them to people. Every day.
It may have been looked at by some as an obsession - and it definately helped attempt to compensate for some connecting she was not always able to do verbally - but for me it reinforced the power of the ongoing connection.
I learned not to contact people because you need something - contact them NOW, and build a relationship. Be generous and think of others before yourself. You can also be selective, which I am - choosing to keep in contact with, and to have a circle of influence with big thinkers, innovators, optimists, and those who can "get it done".
So while Michael felt that he was the only one receiving what I've been sending - monthly inspirational postcards, occasional books, a galley copy of Seth Godin's new "Big Moo" book - he infact did get a personal note and a special mailing that did not go to others in my circle. But the praise he gave what I've been doing came as a surprise to me - because I figure that most people do things like this.
The downside to all of the instant praise and mention of my website to an eager group of attendees wanting to build their businesses, was that my website is not re-launched yet! No doubt a number of folks will visit the site and be somewhat disappointed - because luck is where preparation meets opportunity, right? It is a good lesson to me to not let a deadline slide a bit, and to get my web presence in order with some of the great tools and features that are planned for it.
As for connecting - it can be inexpensive and fun to do - it is for me. The rewards are great - a group of people who trust you over time, whether those who will refer you, or whether prospects that turn into clients - it is a great use of time to develop.