THE BLOG
05/31/2016 04:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Network and Not Be Forgotten

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As entrepreneurs, We spend a considerable amount of time connecting with others through networking, meetings, social media, and email. Before long, a month has passed, then three, then six. How do you stay in front of influencers, prospects and important connections you've made throughout the year to stay relevant and fresh in their minds? Though touchpoints.

What are Touchpoints?

A touchpoint is an action you take to maintain a relationship with someone that you find value in. If it were running a marathon, it would be akin to seeing the water station every mile. Sometimes it's needed, sometimes it's not, but you know it's there for you like clockwork, it's a reliable source, and you know to expect it. In the same way, touchpoints show influencers that you're consistent, reliable, and available.

Types of Touchpoints

How you create your touchpoints depends on your personality and creativity. It can be as simple as periodic phone calls, emails, and pop-bys to their office, or it can be a letter or small token mailed. The trick is to be consistent.

Here are a few ways, including the ones aforementioned, that I like to you that you can start trying immediately:

  • Send an email: Don't overwhelm their inboxes, but send timely messages as you provide new services, have story ideas, are in the area and would like to connect, or periodically to offer praise (maybe they were featured in a publication or online, won and award, or did something notable).
  • Make a call: Use the phone in a similar manner that you would use email. Respect the time of the person on the other end, especially if it's an unexpected call, by being brief and getting to the point of your call.
  • Pop by their office: Use this technique sparingly and only visit when you have something to offer. I prefer a pop-by if I'm in the area and want to say a quick greeting, if I'm bringing a holiday gift (a basket for Christmas or chocolates for Valentine's Day)
  • Send a gift card:I like to use my Starbucks app to email cups of coffee. It's easy. All you have to do is plug in their email address, select a card design, write your message and send it. It's a pleasant surprise. As you get to know the people you want to make deeper connections with, you'll discover their likes.
  • Shoot a video Text: I learned this one from my friend Joe Ash, who sends inspirational video text messages out to a handful of people each morning. It's an engaging and fun way to stay in touch and the recipient can watch the video on their own time.
  • Be thoughtful: Getting to know an influencer or contact means that you also get to know more about their personal likes and preferences. One of the best ways to do that is through asking a lot of questions in your initial meeting conversation and by checking their social media posts and profiles. If you know that their favorite author is releasing a new book, buy it for them. If their favorite band is coming to town, get a pair of tickets. If you find an article or a podcast relevant to their expertise, send them the link.Paying attention to the small details shows that you're interested in them and in building and maintaining a good relationship.
  • Send odd holiday cards: Everyone sends cards and greetings during the obvious times of the year, but what about odd holidays, like Left Handers Day, Doughnut Day, or National Beer Day. When you get to now someone's interests, this can be a really fun way to maintain contact and become memorable.
  • Use your book: If you've written a book, bring a signed copy to your meeting or mail a signed copy after the meeting (depending on whether you need to vet your prospect first in a meeting). If you've written an ebook, email a copy after the meeting with a line like, "It was great to meet you today, John. I wrote this ebook about XYZ and I think you or someone in your network may find it useful and enjoyable. Feel free to share it with whomever you choose." Sharing a book gives you some clout, but also helps you stand out. Not many people will sit across the table from a published author, nor will they forget that they did when they do.
  • Share their work with your audience: Use your social media prowess to comment on their statuses and blog posts. Commenting is another way to show that you're interested in what your prospect or client has to say. Be sure to share, retweet, regram, and repin anything that resonates with you and that you think will add value to others.

When to Make a Touchpoint

I like to perform my first touchpoint the day I meet an influencer. I email them from my car using my iPhone usually thanking them for talking to me and I set up a meeting, if I feel that this is a connection that warrants a deeper conversation. Depending on the connection, I then reach out a week after the connection, then a month, then every three months if we haven't become more regular by then.

Harvey Mackay, the author of the best-selling book "How to Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive" developed a system called the Mackay 66 for his company Mackay Envelope. He created a 66 point checklist for knowing his customers. He used this to win their loyalty through relationships. You can read the Mackay 66 here. It's a great system to adopt, one I recommend.

Ready to Deepen Your Connections?

Zig Ziglar said it best when he said, "You get what you want by giving enough people what they want." Touchpoints are a powerful too for building great relationships. Take care of your prized connections and they'll remember you and eventually will give you the opportunities you're seeking.

What methods do you use? Please comment below to share them.