“Rolodex” may be a dated word but regardless if you use it or some contact database, it is important to use it correctly. How often do you comb through it and reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in awhile? Do you ever weed people out? Do you ever spend the time to really analyze your rolodex and determine where the holes are? In other words, what types of people should be in there but are not, and how do you go about connecting with them. Needless to say, Linkedin and other vehicles have made connecting with others a lot easier, but the truth is that most people still don’t follow the old AT&T ad – “reach out and touch someone” or if they do, they do it improperly.
Most people think that when they contact someone for business they will get a sale, or a lead, or something else. They go into it thinking “what’s in it for myself?” when they should have the mindset “what’s in it for them?” By having that latter attitude, they are in a “customer service” state of mind which makes them more eager to help others versus serving themselves. They strive to listen to the other person’s needs and desires and hopefully be able to offer them some assistance – if not now, maybe down the road.
This is what relationship building is all about. It takes time and maybe some hard work, but that’s what it takes for relationships to last regardless if it is work or personal. We live in a world of instant gratification so it is difficult for many to be patient and slowly work on gaining another’s trust and respect. Some may bombard a new contact with emails and phone calls so it is necessary to understand how the person likes to be contacted and how often.
As an example, when you meet a person at a networking event, you may exchange business cards. At that point, you should try to ascertain if this person is worth scheduling a meeting or at least a phone call. To not monopolize all their time, I usually say that I am sure the other person wants to meet other people, so I tell them that I will follow up with them the next day so we can schedule a time to talk more or to meet. I always take the lead because I have learned that others may say they will contact me but it may take them days or even weeks to do this. If the person says they will not be around the next day, ask them when they will be in the office. If they seem evasive, take that as a clue to back off so just follow up with an email. Regardless of how they react, always be courteous and do not be pushy.
I also feel my rolodex should be shared with others. As I peruse it periodically, I think about how some of my contacts could benefit from meeting others I know. I will call/email each person separately and suggest someone that they should “meet” but I get their permission first before I just email both of them. It always makes my day when I hear from both of them that they had a fruitful conversation.
Make it a habit to review and analyze your rolodex every quarter. Remember “out of sight, out of mind” so it is up to you to keep the relationships going strong.