The Note That Made My Day
Last year, one of my colleagues sent me a random text message that said “I was thinking of you today, and just thought I’d say hi!” This was someone who I didn’t talk to on a regular basis, but the randomness and the thoughtfulness of that text message sure made me smile! The best thing about it was that nothing was expected of me on what happened to be a very busy and stressful day. I could respond back with a quick hello that took only a few seconds of my time.
“I was thinking of you today, and just thought I’d say hi!”
It’s also nice when people send me messages with a bigger networking purpose in mind, for example meeting for dinner to catch up. But we’ve all had those days where even the most simple dinner logistics are a challenge. On those busy days, I tend to delay responding until I can think through it, or even worse, I completely forget to respond and have to send an apology several days later.
You probably know how it feels to be on both ends of this situation! The person who reached out to me is hesitant to do so again because of a perceived lack of interest, and I start feeling guilty about not having time to devote to the relationship. But maintaining your network doesn’t have to be about taking risks or investing huge amounts of time.
People are Like Plants
If you’ve ever had a house plant, you have experienced the guilt of forgetting to water it for a few weeks. You notice it across the room looking brown and dry… dying on your watch. I know some people who leave the plant in the corner to wither even more because they can’t face reality, or don’t want to put in the effort to revive it. I know others who just l cut their losses and throw it out, even though it might have been possible to bring it back to life. Wouldn’t it be great if we never forgot to water the plant in the first place? It only takes a few seconds.
It’s a lot easier to add fertilizer once in a while if you’ve already been watering the relationship.
People in our lives are just like plants, and networking is about cultivating our relationships with them. A little text message saying “Hi! I was thinking about you today.” is all it takes to water that relationship. You might need to spend some time adding fertilizer (maybe a dinner or a phone call) every once in a while, too, but that’s a lot easier if the relationship is already alive. Actions like these help roots take hold and support future growth in the relationship.
Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Water a Relationship
The next time I talked to the colleague who had sent me that message, I mentioned to him how much it had brightened my day. He shared with me that a long time ago, a mentor told him to never miss an opportunity to tell someone you thought of them… for any reason! He took that to heart, and made a point of always telling someone when they crossed his mind.
Check the contacts in your phone today. Delete the ones that are officially dead. Find the ones that are withering and let them know you’re thinking about them. And don’t forget to water even your best relationships. A quick “hello” with no strings attached might be exactly what they need.