BY DANIELLE HARLAN
Too often, we fall out of contact with high-quality people because we move, or we're too busy, or we feel like we’ve let too much time go by. But there are at least two big reasons why not keeping in touch is a mistake.
First, as you move along in life and constantly strive to better yourself, you’ll eventually notice that truly high-quality people are not actually that common. So if you happen to be lucky enough to come across one, it makes sense to hold on to that person.
Second, keeping in touch is pretty easy, and doing so doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of time-consuming planning or elaborate strategy. There are some people in my life with whom I speak only once or twice a year, and that’s more than enough. The point is that I make an effort to keep good relationships going.
How to make it happen
- If you struggle to know with whom to keep in touch and how often, try keeping a list of the people from your circle of support and others who bring you joy and/or help you to be the best version of yourself. Then set a weekly or monthly reminder to pick one or two people from the list to reach out to. This may feel overly planned and forced at first, but over time, you’ll start to internalize this list, and it will become second nature to reach out to them.
- Keep track of people’s birthdays by adding them to your online calendar and classifying them as repeating yearly events. When the time comes, send them a card with a personalized note. (I heart calendar reminders! They’re a super easy, but little-known secret to big success.)
- If you come across an article, resource, or even a job posting that is relevant to someone you know, send him a quick email to say hello and share the link. It takes less than 60 seconds to do, and it is a powerful way to reinforce the relationship bond.
- If you’re out and happen to see something that makes you smile and think of a particular person (like her favorite slogan on a poster), snap a picture. Then send her a text explaining that it reminded you of her. (This is generally more appropriate for people with whom you have a close and friendly relationship.)
- If you haven’t talked to someone in a long time, send him an email apologizing for all the time that’s gone by and asking how he’s been. I’ve done this many times after years of not talking with a friend or colleague, and I have yet to receive any response other than that the person was glad to hear from me.
By keeping in touch with high-quality people and letting them know that they’re genuinely valued and appreciated, you’ll strengthen your relationships and increase your feelings of joy, connectedness, and fulfillment.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher from The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who Are Redefining Leadership (McGraw-Hill Professional, New York, 2016), by Danielle Harlan.
About The Author
Danielle Harlan is the Founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential. She earned her PhD in political science and M.A. in education at Stanford University. Named one of Silicon Valley’s “40 Under 40,” she has also been a speaker for TEDx and worked as an instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and U.C. Berkeley Extension’s Corporate and Professional Development Program. Her book, The New Alpha (McGraw-Hill), was published in September 2016.