The other day someone asked me how to best stay in touch with people while getting my day-to-day work done. Two answers immediately come to mind:
1) Always be ready.
2) Always look for opportunities to be appreciative.
We all have 1,440 minutes in each day. This comes out to 96 periods of 15 minutes every day. With the right focus, these small segments of time are like gold.
Why do I like 15 minute segments of time? Because 15 minutes is large enough to matter and small enough to find. Being “ready” means having what you need when you need it. Therefore, if you are ready when opportunities of five, 10 or 15 minutes suddenly appear in your day, you can use that time effectively.
I am a firm believer in sending thank-you notes and messages of acknowledgement. So that I’m always ready in case a small period of “found” time appears, I carry note cards, envelopes and stamps with me at all times. I typically have two or three cards and envelopes, plus stamps, in my journal. This means, when a small window of time in my day opens up I can quickly write a personal note to someone and get that bit of acknowledgement into the mail almost immediately. The note doesn’t have to be lengthy to mean something to the recipient.
Sometimes I’ll even write a note of thanks to someone and simply hand it to them on my way out. This simple system of being “always ready” allows me to keep in touch with people in a meaningful way, without adding another task to my “to do” list.
You might wonder how I find the time to write these notes. Have you ever gone to a meeting and then had that meeting start five, 10 or 15 minutes late? There is an opportunity to write notes! Or perhaps you have found yourself in a waiting room or even in line somewhere. When you have your note writing materials right with you, those “found” moments become occasions to give acknowledgement to someone. All these little opportunities add up. And all the notes help you stay in contact with people who are helping you along your path of success. Keeping in touch, then, happens easily and naturally when you are always ready.
Our business connections are important to nurture. When was the last time you received a personal note to thank you or acknowledge you for something you did or achieved? You still remember it, don’t you? Similarly, sending personal notes make you stand out in the business world and help set you apart as someone who “notices” and “cares.”
Where do you find opportunities to acknowledge others? This leads to my second point of always looking for opportunities to be appreciative. When you arrived for your meeting, did the secretary welcome you warmly and maybe offer you a bottle of water or a cup of coffee? There is an opportunity to acknowledge someone with simple appreciation. Or perhaps someone sent a referral your way. Whether you get work from that referral or not, sending a note of thanks FOR the referral can mean a lot… and may bring you business in the future.
One side effect of looking for opportunities to be appreciative is that you start to find them. When you focus on appreciation and the resulting gratitude from those experiences (so you can write your thank-you notes) you discover even more to be thankful for. This can make your days happier and more fulfilling, often making it easier to complete the “normal” work that needs to get done as well. So keeping in touch with people becomes much easier when you are always ready, and are looking for opportunities to be appreciative. Plus reaching out to those around you with appreciation and gratitude will no doubt help you make your best day even better.