It’s time to take stock . . . summer is around the corner; the year is almost half over. Here’s a few ideas to stay connected (or start up) with friends, family, neighbors, workplace and business contacts.
1. Answer your phone. The common grumble I hear is that everyone hides behind voice mail, rarely returning calls. Stop it—have you ever stopped to think how much time you waste listening to repeated calls asking you to contact another? Instead of ignoring the call, return it and end the call back chain.
2. Make a few calls. Get out your PDA or twirl the Rolodex and commit to real phone contacts 15-20 minutes a day with a goal of reaching 5 people. Connecting in real time with real people opens doors, some that you had no idea existed. Send a post card with a quick note — I’ve still have post cards that Tom Peters sent me that are 20 plus years old. He’s a firm believer in staying connected after he meets and/or works with someone.
3. If you own your own company or head up a department, create a quarterly newsletter that is snail mailed and emailed. Ditto if you are in management. Ditto if you are just you. The point is to stay connected. There are plenty of software programs available that are easily formatted for newsletters. Sure, write about what’s new and exciting. But add info that is useful that may be related to your industry or just an interesting fact or item that you’ve come across. Make sure you ask them to have the email address that will be sending out the announcement of the newsletter (or the newsletter itself) in the recipient’s email address book — otherwise, you might be spammed out. Many of my clients know that I review movies for my newsletter — it’s not uncommon to get emails asking what I think about a current movie. Consider starting a blog.
4. Have a party. Organize a beginning of Summer or welcome to Fall party and invite all past clients, customers — everyone to join in. Enjoy the renewed contact in a format of fun and celebration . . . and, have everyone bring a food contribution for a local shelter or food pantry. Or, if there is a family in the news that has incurred some type of a disaster, adopt them for the day. Food, clothing, gifts, etc. are brought by all attending and delivered. Make it an annual event with a different theme every year to make it interesting, fun and enjoyable. It can be as simple as a picnic in the park or as fancy as a restaurant. If your home is large enough to handle the people flow, use that.
5. Do seasonal things — if you’ve got a budget to work with, how about renting an ice cream truck and give away ice cream on a hot, hot day. August has lots of them. Do sufficient marketing in advance to build the anticipation and participation in the event. Think about doing promotions like pumpkins in the fall, seedlings in the spring. Choose a theme, like improving the neighborhood or enhancing the park areas. Always promote the event in advance using both digital and direct mail marketing and send thank you notes to all who were involved after each event.
6. Sponsor a movie at your local theatre for kids on weekends. Buy a block of tickets for an upcoming kids show and give away free popcorn. Send the tickets out in advance and precede the event with newspaper and flyer marketing. Tap into a local radio show — they are pros are masters of movie ticket give-aways. Take full advantage of sending invitations, flyers, and emails and be sure to maximize the theatre marquee for drive by exposure. As a kid, I can remember this was a favorite on a Saturday.
7. Organize a block party for the end of summer in your work neighborhood, your own, or take it to another neighborhood that would welcome you and you are connected to. Do your homework on finding out what permits are necessary to ‘block’ off the street and arrange for entertainment. Most Cities now have written policies or what to do (and not what to do) that they will promptly mail to you. Head the committee to distribute and print the flyers and to organize the ‘bring a dish to pass’ list for the neighbors. Kids love face painting, temporary tattoos, balloons and goody bags. Contact a sponsor or local merchant to provide some free back to school pens pencils and crayons. Hit the Dollar Store to get prizes for games. Donate the soda, hot dogs or ice cream. Always include information about you and your services.
8. Start planning now to do a holiday drive for your local charity. Food drives, toys for tots, holiday food baskets or coats for the cold are always welcome. Local shelters have ‘wish lists.’ Find out what’s on it and pass the word. As an author, I’ve made a tradition of give boxes of books to women’s shelters during the Holidays — self-help, inspirational and how-to topics are always welcome.
Extending yourself and resources to your community is a good thing. You get great visibility in a value added manner and your efforts really help. It does take time and planning. If you’re not busy, you are not ‘out there’ reminding people that you are in the business to serve them, both as a person and as a professional.
9. Have a good time and do something that you are passionate about. I’ve vowed not to get on an airplane during the month of July! I want to stay home for an entire 31 days and work in the garden, read a few good books and do a full revision of my book, When God Says NO. What are you passionate about?