Social media should (and can) facilitate real connection, but often it devolves into a junk food version of it– fast, convenient, addicting, but not very nourishing. I recently read Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism, which I highly recommend. Cal is not anti-technology, but he’s a big believer in making technology work for you, instead of the other way around.
Along with a lot of great advice, Cal seems to have reached the same conclusion I did, which is that conversations are the building blocks of connection. Not emails, texts, etc, but actual talking. In person is best, video calls next best, and phone calls still far ahead of text-based electronic communication.
If you’ve played with my “Maximum Social Network Calculator“, you have an idea of how hard it is to maintain a lot of real connections. In response, many people end up not maintaining relationships outside of immediate friends, family, colleagues and clients. When time is short, it’s hard to “justify” calling some of those people you really like, but haven’t spoken to in a while. What if they’re busy? (They are.) What if they don’t want to talk to me? (Extremely unlikely, unless you were such a jerk you really should call them.)
A lot of the work I’ve been doing in the Mimiran CRM lately is about making it easier to have these conversations, removing friction, so you can just catch up with people. It seems almost silly, but it’s made a big difference in my day, my business, and my life.
So if there are a lot of people in your orbit that you’ve lost touch with, the kind of people that after you run into them, you think, “I’m so glad I ran into so-and-so, it was great to catch up”, I challenge you to reconnect with them by having actual conversations.
The Reconnection Challenge
- Figure out approximately how many people you can stay in touch with, based on how much time you have. Note that this number will probably be lower than you think, and in reality, will be even lower than the answer you get here. That’s OK. (As the calculator shows, the real value of good connections is the network of connections.) [5 minutes. No need to overthink. This is just an approximation.]
- Create a list of your contacts. You probably have some in your phone, some in a CRM, some in LinkedIn, some in Facebook, some in random spreadsheet somewhere, etc. Get them in one place (of course, Mimiran makes this easy, but you can just use a spreadsheet for now). [5 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your situation.]
- Tag your contacts. This helps you classify people based on how you know them and how you interact with them. For example, you might have “Local Friends”, “College Friends”, “Former Colleagues”, “Past Clients”, “Workout Buddies”, etc. It’s OK to remove contacts or tag them as “Not Friends Anymore” if you don’t really like them. If you’re using Mimiran or another CRM that supports tagging, this should be straightforward. If you’re using a spreadsheet, just add a column and put the tags there. This will let you filter by tags later. [1-2 hours]
- Based on how much time you have, commit to calling a certain number of people each day. Start with a really low number, say 2. If you just do this on weekdays, that’s 10 per week, approximately 500 per year. Start small and work your way up, rather than saying “50” and getting frustrated. You can always do more than your goal if you have extra time (and you’ll probably want to when you get on a roll). [5 minutes]
- Start calling the group of people that you most want to reconnect with– the ones it will be the easiest to call. Give yourself permission to take a few minutes each day and call these people. Start at the top of the list for that group (tag) and call. Ask how they’re doing. Explain what you’re doing. (If you want the exact wording I ended up using, click below.) [5 minutes plus per day, depending on how much you want to devote to it.]
That’s it. A simple plan to reconnect with the people you care about.
p.s. If you want to reconnect with me, please do. If you’re wondering why I haven’t reconnected with you, it’s a work in progress. 😉
p.p.s. If you want to do the challenge, and want a tiny accountability nudge, grab the scripts above.