Touch Points: 5 Ways to Stay in Touch with your Business Contacts
By Lauren Sergy
“How has it been so long since we’ve spoken?”
“Wow – I blinked and a whole year has gone past.”
“We really do need to talk more often.”
With a million things on our plate, staying in touch with our business colleagues can be tricky. But good relationships depend on some kind of communication, and when it comes to keeping the warm business feelings flowing, the small, regular touch-points matter. If you are in need of some fresh ideas for reaching out to your clients and colleagues, here are five ways to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Share useful content
“I saw this an immediately thought of you” is a great opener to an email. Sharing articles, videos, and other useful resources with specific people is an excellent way to show them that you’re thinking of them and that you understand their needs, interests, and context. It also gives you a great reason to reach out and metaphorically tap someone on the shoulder to remind them you’re still around. Here’s the kicker: this must be done on a 1-to-1 basis, preferably over email or via direct messaging such as LinkedIn messenger. Posting or sharing something publicly on your social media feed doesn’t count, as there’s no individual outreach. The magic of emailing someone an article that you think they’ll find interesting is that you are thinking of and speaking directly to them. That’s the sort of quick contact that helps build and maintain good business relationships.
Bonus tip: when using this as a touch-point strategy, don’t ask for anything or mention any of your offerings in the email. Stick to the simple, generous act of sharing a thing you think someone may find useful.
Comment on their content
Many professionals create online content as part of their work. From LinkedIn articles to YouTube videos, your engagement provides important motivation. Every comment encourages them to create more, and by showing interest in their content, you’ll stay top of their mind as well. But there’s an important caveat here: likes and shares are important, but they aren’t engagement and don’t really count as a touch-point. If you want your clients or colleagues to feel connected to you, you’ll need to leave comments on their articles or creations. One or two sentences does the trick. Yes, it’s a little more involved than simply clicking thumbs-up, but it counts for way more.
Send a thank-you card
This my favourite way to create a memorable touch-point with my clients and colleagues. From thanking people for business, for assistance, or just for showing your appreciation to a client or professional colleague, thank-you cards are extremely thoughtful gestures and often gratefully received. I keep stacks of them around and look for interesting reasons to send them. You can thank someone for their business, of course, but also for helping you with a problem, for creating a piece of content or resource you love (I often send authors thank-you cards), or simply for being a great person. Get creative with your reasons for sending thank-you cards, and always include a hand-written note. Hand-written cards dials up the personal touch and simply can’t be matched by email.
Run a card campaign
Right around Christmastime, we get flooded with cards from various business associates wishing us well. That, my friends, is a card campaign. But just because the influx of corporate Christmas cards may go largely unnoticed, that doesn’t mean that card campaigns themselves are cliché. On the contrary, a creative card campaign is a wonderful communication touch-point with people you don’t have much occasion to speak to. The key to making them work is to get creative with them. I have two guidelines for a creative card campaign:
- Pick an unusual time to send a card. There are plenty of occasions throughout the year that would work for a card campaign. You could send Thanksgiving cards (grateful you’re my client!), Hallowe’en cards (all treats, no tricks!), Super Summer Solstice cards, and so on. I send Valentine’s Day cards, which get a great reaction. After all, how many of us get surprise Valentines in the mail?
- Make it personal. Don’t go for a generic card with ugly stock photography. The cost of bulk printing postcards is so cheap that you can easily put together something showing you or your team. The point of these activities it to make people think of you, so let them see you. Send a picture of your team attempting to carve a Thanksgiving turkey. Don a costume for Hallowe’en. Write a creative greeting. I dress up all fancy for my Valentines and compose a truly ridiculous business sonnet as the message.
Creative card campaigns are fun, inexpensive, and effective. I get loads of delighted emails from clients and colleagues after my Valentines campaign and they’ve kindled many a great conversation. Yes, it takes more deliberate planning than the other recommendations in this list, but it’s a lot of fun and the buzz it creates is well worth the effort.
Do impromptu check-in phone calls
If you want a more intimate way to quickly touch base with a client or colleague, pick up the phone and give them an old-fashioned call! In an age of texting and virtual meetings, spontaneous phone calls have become a rarer part of our lives. But it can be both surprising and delightful to get a call out-of-the-blue from a business contact you know and like. The key to this check-in is actually using the phone: email just doesn’t cut it here. I also don’t recommend doing these calls via videoconference; many of us have significant Zoom fatigue, and phone calls can be a welcome respite from the webcam. This connection strategy is also for supervisors of teams with remote workers. If you want to make your remote employees feel more valued (and less alienated), give them a spontaneous phone call just to see how they’re doing. It can be very meaningful to get a live call from a manager who just wants to know how you’re doing. Whether you are contacting a client or colleague, don’t immediately ask about their projects or talk about your latest corporate endeavour. This is a personal check-in, not a work report. Let the person know you’re just touching base, engage in a minute or two of chit-chat, and remind them that they can call you any time they need. Leave enough time on your end for the conversation to go longer if they want, but these calls can usually be very brief.
Finding these short, regular touch-points is an excellent communication strategy that can improve, deepen, or revitalize your professional relationships. People out there want to stay in touch – so reach out and let them know you’re thinking of them!