After I learned that networking in business was really about making friends, I suddenly had a new problem.
I couldn’t keep in touch with all the friends I’d met.
Like recently, I caught up with a good friend who I haven’t seen in years.
15 minutes into drinking our Philz Coffee, I learned that I had missed out on so much of her life.
She started a family, sunsetted her education startup to go into consulting, and battled serious health issues.
While I was happy to be in the know about her life again, I also wished…
- that I was there to celebrate the start of her new family.
- that I could have helped her through her career transition.
- that I offered a shoulder to cry on during her sudden health scare.
But my initial guilt wasn’t even the worst part.
As we said our goodbyes, she nervously mentioned how much she wanted to tell me everything but assumed (correctly) that I would be too busy.
Ugh. That hurt.
Because that’s not the kind of person I want to be. I needed to make a change.
Here’s what I did
Like any normal person wanting to improve themselves, I went to the opposite extreme.
You know the big CRMs like Salesforce or Hubspot that salespeople use to close leads?
Well, I made a CRM for my personal life.
By the end of it, I had close to 400 names with people’s emails, jobs, interests, characteristics, locations, birthdays, personal notes and more.
Looking back, it was a bit much.
But investing time to create an organized place with all the people I care most about was worth it. 💯
While it was impossible to keep in touch with everyone, I made a “top 20” list of the people I wanted to deepen my relationships with. Then I set a goal to support at least one person a week.
As I mentioned in my last article on our framework to making friends, this could look like:
- Making a well-timed introduction (don’t forget about the double opt-in!)
- Celebrating their wins (personal and professional)
- Recommending books or articles that appeal to their personalities
Or it could be as simple as a 30-minute phone call where you show genuine interest in their lives.
This new weekly habit has not only made me closer to my friends, but I’ve also received dozens of event invitations, introductions to future clients, and even job offers.
All of which were unprompted.
How does this work? It has been proven time and time again that givers are more successful than “matchers” or “takers.”
In simpler terms, friends want their friends to succeed.
The more support you give to your friends, the more they want to reciprocate.
Note: You can do everything technically right but you can’t fake genuinely caring. The next time you catch up with someone, listen more than you speak.
Ask about their lives beyond the surface-level questions. Be vulnerable with your struggles, personally and professionally.
These are some of the factors that separate a genuine friendship from a transactional business meeting.
I don’t recommend you go to my extreme of creating 400+ detailed profiles. Instead, start with these three steps:
- Create a list of 20 friends in business that you’d like to build a deeper relationship with.
- Spend a half hour writing notes about the people on your list: their story, goals, interests, etc.
- Ask yourself: How can I support one person on this list this week?
Make it a habit to help one person, once a week. By the end of the year, you would have helped over 50 friends get closer to achieving their dreams.
Now that is a metric that anyone would be proud of.
Tam “keep in touch” Pham
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