Many people connect with their existing contact database just once a year: when they send Christmas cards.
Reach out once a year, and you’ll get new business or new referrals once a year. Maybe.
Somewhere in between once a week and once a month is how often you should contact every person in your network. Minimum. (The more often, the more impact you'll have.)
Make friends with your CRM.
It's exciting to add all those fresh business cards to your contact database that you just collected at the trade show. Or import new signups on your website and send them a welcome email. But don't forget about your existing contacts.
You should be looking through your entire contact database every week or two. If you notice any names that look unfamiliar, call, email, or send a card immediately. If you’ve forgotten who they are, chances are they’ve forgotten who you are too.
If you have forgotten them, Ace of Sales helps you out with 5 fields for each of your contacts that go beyond basic contact info. “Buying Motives" and “Questions, Ideas, and Actions" are contact-by-contact treasure troves that can serve you immensely when reaching out to someone you haven't communicated with in awhile.
Here's an example of how maintaining these fields can come in handy. As you scan through your contact list, you notice one in particular: you read about him in the newspaper the other day. In Ace of Sales you open up their contact detail screen, and look in the “Description" section. Bingo! You see that this person loves chili cheese nachos. (You recall that you had a conversation about that during the networking event where you met several months ago, and you wisely entered this tidbit into your Ace of Sales database.)
Clip out that article, mail it to them with a gift card for Applebee’s, and you will have a solid referral partner for life.
Create an email to reconnect.
Everyone in your contact database is a potential referral partner or a potential client.
When you scan through your contact list, look not just for people who you don't recall, but also for people who could be stronger contacts. Reconnect with them by sending a personalized email.
Here are some ideas:
1. Send them a link to an article about their industry. 2. Invite them to an upcoming networking or social event. 3. Be candid. Ask them what’s new, and offer a phone appointment to catch up. 4. Send them a referral. (This one always works.) 5. Is it near a holiday? Send a special email greeting.
Send out a weekly or monthly email newsletter.
Don't have time for individualized follow up this week? At the very least sending a regular enewsletter will remind everyone on your list of who you are and what you do.
They don’t even have to open up your newsletter every time; just by seeing your name in their inbox, it counts as a “soft touch." They will see your name, and they will remember who you are.
This matters big time when someone asks them, “Do you know anybody who....?"
If they haven’t heard from you since last December, they might not drop your name.
Define your style.
How often do you want to connect with each person in your network? Do you want to call, email, or send a letter or card? Set a schedule and stick to it like clockwork. Connect with value-driven messages and your contacts will look forward to the next time you reach out.
Average salespeople watch their circle of influence dwindle to those who they’ve seen or spoken to within the last few weeks. Stay in touch throughout the year to ensure you get remembered, referred, and ringed up when your contacts are ready to buy.