I know, I know, we eMail every single day (sometimes, thrice). We text one another. But, that is NOT personal contact. And, for your business and personal lives, that’s what counts. If you don’t think a personal touch is needed- think about the last time you got a note- handwritten…It touched you! This is even more important if you are a leader! Your staff/management team can feel alienated if all they see is you brusquely parading around the plant- even if there are memos from you on the bulletin board and they get eMail communiqués. Keep things personal… it really pays off.
- You carry a smartphone- use it for voice! You want a dialogue. Texting and eMail can barely accommodate same. (I personally believe people tweet so they don’t have to listen- they just talk [broadcast]). Make sure the ratio is on the order of one call for every 10 eMails or so (unless you are like me and send 100 or more a day)… Even while on a phone call, we lose the ability to discern body language, but the intonations and pauses communicate volumes. Which brings up…
- Have a meeting- just for fun. We want to work with and associate with people we trust. When we take the effort to meet in person, it elevates our status – it means the person counts to us. We have taken time from our busy day to spend it with them. It’s one of the other aspects I enjoy about my local coffee shop (St. Elmo’s, in case you forgot). I get the chance to see a lot of business and personal associates from my area- see their eyes, get an idea if they are troubled or thrilled, calm or intrepid. It’s invaluable. I wish I could do the same for all my friends and associates (by the time I get to Phoenix…)- but there’s financial and real time repercussions involved. So, use Skype or LiveMeeting to share a moment- but only for those whose distance require it- and DON’T discuss business- just hold a short conversation. And, if you hear some news about someone- call them, even if you have a leave a voice message. Reap the dividends.
- Give a gift- a relevant one. I vote for a book (oh, no, another anachronism- NOT). I am not talking about giving your client a calendar or a desk diary- or a free coffee gift card to their local shop. And, they don’t have to be more expensive than that, either. But, the gift should amplify the relationship- maybe someone just bought a new car or wrote to you about a new business venture. So, send them a coupon for a car wash from their nearby facility- or a book about entrepreneurial endeavors. Respond to their needs- that meaningful gesture will be remembered. It becomes part of your relationship.
- Have a soiree. Who has the time, you ask? Make it. Have one in your own home town, have one while on the road. Invite your friends, clients, relatives to gather for drinks, a dinner, or attend a lecture or concert with you. The invitation says “thanks”; assuming they have the time to attend, it augments your relationship- and even if they can’t, they appreciate the invite. (I vote for the inclusion of spouses and significant others, as well.)
- Send a handwritten note (or have it delivered). First of all, the USPS needs the business :-). But, really, get your own stationery, buy some personalized cards, and personalized corporate notes (they are cheap, really- you can write to me and I will prove it to you) and use them. Yes, I was the guy who bought corny cards to give to my kids when they were younger. Yes, I still have (every?) card I got from my kids (I am finally clearing out those from ex-wives). Deliver a welcome note to the new hiree, a personal message to a client, a birthday card. Write your own missive and sign it.
Stand out from the crowd- and make a difference in the world.