Now that you can buy Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers, it’s time to get back to work and focus on running your business. Even the most avid social media maven will admit when pressed that it’s exhausting to keep up with every platform. Trust me: Unless you are a celebrity or a scandal-ridden politician, nobody really cares what you do every hour of the day.
So, take a break and do something really radical: Re-establish some personal relationships. Every truly wonderful thing that’s happened in my professional experience has resulted from a personal contact. I’m not kidding. I landed my first newspaper job based on a recommendation from a Washington Post reporter I worked with on a big breaking story. My exclusive Los Angeles Times interview with former First Lady (now Senator) Hillary Clinton came through a trusted personal contact. She was not granting interviews to anyone—except me during an especially tumultuous time a few years ago.
One of the biggest projects I’ve ever landed crossed my desk two years after one top corporate executive introduced me to a colleague via a two-sentence e-mail.
Go offline and try these five ways to reach out and touch someone:
1. Pick up the phone and call five of your most loyal customers or clients
Ask them what’s new and good in their lives. Find out what projects they are working on and ask how you can be of service. Be generous with your time and contacts. It will all come back to you. I promise.
2. Track down five customers or clients you haven’t heard from in a while
People often change jobs, get promoted and move around. Use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to find them again.
3. Join or renew your membership in a local business organization such as a chamber of commerce or networking group
Get out of your office to attend a gathering at least once a week. Slap on a smile and shake some hands. Hand out and collect some business cards. Meet some new people. If your card is outdated, get a new one. A well-designed business card is still an effective marketing tool.
4. Join a national professional association or trade organization
Register to attend the next national conference or trade show. Walking the floor is the best and cheapest way to check out your competition. Sign up to attend every cocktail party and workshop that you can. If you can’t afford the registration fee, contact the event management company and ask if you can volunteer to work at the conference.
5. Dust off your company letterhead and write a short letter
Provide an update about any new products or services. Personalize each letter. Then, send it out to all the decision-makers in your data base. Anyone drowning in e-mail will be intrigued and definitely open your letter.