For all the social media and technology out there that helps us keep in touch with people, we still seem to have trouble maintaining relationships. Staying in touch with your friends and family is important for your mental health, and staying in touch with professional connections can be vital to your career. For the purposes of this article, we’re discussing primarily business contacts and friends and acquaintances within your field.
It’s vital to remember that staying in touch is more than just reaching out when you need something. It’s about touching base with someone so that you know at least a little about where they are in their life and what they’re up to. You don’t want to be reaching out for a favor after a year and a half of silence to someone who’s in the middle of losing a parent or who’s moved to another continent. It makes you look callous and self-involved, even if your intentions were noble. While sometimes a cold call for help or with a job offer will turn out well, you don’t want to be far enough out of touch that you’ve missed a big life beat. Besides which, if you’re kept in someone’s mind, they’re more likely to reach out to you when they need help or when they have something to give. If you consider this person to be a connection, you want to be on that list.
How you keep in touch with someone is up to you and depends heavily on the type of relationship you have with them. However, it’s strongly recommended that you go above and beyond adding them to your mailing list if you want them to remember you as a human rather than as spam in their inbox. A few ways to keep someone in the loop and to remain in their loop are: sending an email to check in or update on a previous mutual project, grabbing a drink or dinner once every few months, or inviting them personally to an event you’re hosting or otherwise involved with.
Always avoid reaching out with nothing to say. Find something worth mentioning or don’t say anything at all. When you do see them, have business points to discuss. Maintain the appearance of forward momentum and projects you’re working on, even if you don’t feel busy or important at the time. If you struggle with positivity, wait until your mood and career are in a good place to see people that you want to perceive you in a positive working light.
Perception in maintaining your network is everything. If people think that you’re doing good work and moving up in the world, they’re more likely to consider you a valuable connection worth keeping and make efforts in return to stay in touch with you.