THE BLOG

How to Reconnect With Your Network

05/05/2014 12:19 pm ET | Updated Jul 05, 2014

How many "friends" do you have on Facebook? And are they all actually your friends? How about LinkedIn -- how many connections? Followers on Twitter? Yes, almost every aspect of sales is a numbers game and it can be impressive to have a lot of connections, friends, or whatever but the reality is most business owners and service providers are not benefiting from the amount of people they have in their online communities.

Of course, it's a completely different story with kids on Instagram that are sharing notes and pictures with all of their friends (or followers) every minute of every day! Imagine if they were sales producers?

Anyway, your actual database (those people in your handheld device that you may know) has also accumulated hundreds, maybe thousands of names. These are people you once knew (or perhaps never knew) but probably got in your database for very different reasons. Over the years, you may have collected business cards for absolutely no reason whatsoever and those names invariably were posted in your Outlook and ended up in what you used to call your phone. How many of those people have never become your friends, prospects, clients, referral sources, or vendors? It might be time to un-friend your friends and refresh your database. Or even better -- find a way to reconnect with those worth reconnecting with and put a value on those connections!

Before you start thinking about how busy you are and why you would never have time to spend on your database, I have news for you. From a sales perspective, updating, refreshing, and reconnecting with the people in your world can be one of the most important (and profitable) things you can do!

Every new sales producer (my clients are mostly financial advisors, brokers, agents, reps, planners, product wholesalers) shares with me that they don't have enough people to see to talk about their work. And most experienced and even top producing reps tell me that they don't do a good enough job staying in touch with their clients, generating referrals, and elevating their book of business.

So isn't having a good process in place to "work the crowd" a good use of time? Maybe this becomes a great use of a Friday afternoon before kicking off early for the weekend?

Here are some suggestions to get you started!

Those Darn Business Cards
No doubt you have a stack of business cards on your desk in a snarl of rubber bands. (I do!) Are you using these cards for more than a paper weight? Before even diving into your database, go through each business card and determine who you need to follow up with and which ones get added to your database. The others -- toss! In fact, after getting yourself organized, you may want to toss them all!

A to Z
OK, let's take it from the top! The A's I mean. Start with all the names that begin with A and take it from there. You might want to focus on one letter (depending on the letter) a week. This Friday, focus on the A's, next Friday the B's, and so on. As you're working your way down the list, consider whether each contact needs to be updated (workplace, contact info, status, etc.), called, emailed, added to a blog (if appropriate), connected through Linked In, deleted, or invited for a drink, lunch, or dinner. The goal is to catch up, compare notes, see what their goals are, share some of yours, and explore ways of helping one another. You might also offer ways for you to stay in touch. Fancy that!

Take the blame!
Often enough, it feels awkward to contact someone in your database that you haven't spoken to in weeks, months, years. You may feel guilty about not doing a good job staying in touch. Well, they haven't done a good job either! Feel better? That said, take the blame and take it from there. Don't use being busy as an excuse. Heck, everyone is busy! Saying you're busy simply means that whatever didn't get done (like staying in touch) simply wasn't important enough at the time.

Here is an example of what you might re-write in an email or say if you actually make a call. (I think there's an app for that!)

"Hello Joan! It's Michael! It's been forever! When was the last time we spoke? I can't believe it's been so long. I'm sorry for not doing a better job staying in touch. It would be great to reconnect and catch up!"

Then take it from there. Just make sure you pick up the check!

Update, Add, Delete
As you're going through your database, really challenge yourself to determine whether each name still belongs on your list. Does their workplace, status, or address need to be updated? If you're not sure, that might be a good enough reason to do a search or simply contact them to find out. Does someone's title or company remind you of others that need to be added? Do they need to be deleted? Make the tough choices that might allow you to become more focused.

Write it down!
When I'm going through my database, I always have a legal pad at the ready. Why? Because I'm strategizing when I'm reviewing my list and I make notes about who I'm contacting and some other action steps. Sometimes I write pages of lists in one sitting. Over the coming weeks, I incorporate these lists into my day to day routine which allows me to put some of my thoughts into action.

So what's the best of your time this Friday afternoon?