Productivity Hack: Staying In Touch

for the tl;dr – 1)Create a mailchimp mailing list for those you want to stay in contact. 2)Once a month (or whichever frequency works for you) send an email with a personal touch and ask that people reply with their latest happenings. 3)Create an email address to easily auto-subscribe new contacts to the email list. 4)Create a zapier tasks that will add new subscribers to your mailchimp, when a new email is received by the created email address. 5)To add new contacts to your list, send them an email and bcc your created email address.

I’m absolutely miserable at staying in touch. There are so many people that I meet. And I want to know with all these people what they have been up to, what they are working on, any personal status changes, what can I congratulate them on, and/or what areas of their lives need support or encouragement. In the past years, I’ve defaulted to facebook to help me connect and keep my relationships with people that I meet. However, I currently have 1170 friends on facebook and with the fb algorithm, I usually only see the noisy people on my timeline. If I switch to the “most recent” view on fb, it still only shows status updates for the time that I am logged in. Combine that with the fact that a lot of people don’t post much on fb anymore (including myself — but I do lurk *hehe*), and its impossible to stay in touch. Oh, and I’ve never been the type of gal who picks up the phone (sorry).

Most people will argue that its impossible to stay in touch with everyone. Especially, as you get older, move around, and change jobs. I do agree, but I still would like to make some effort to maintain contact. Besides having a general interest in people that I care about, there is also a benefit to “networking” within your existing networks. There are many people who find their next job, opportunity, or mate from introductions from friends. And you never know who will connect you to that “next one” and vice versa.

I am a problem solver. My problem is I want to stay in better contact with friends, family, and associates. My first attempt at solving this problem, was to build a complex software application that keeps an eye on who I interact the most with on fb and suggest people with whom I don’t interact with often. But fb’s graph api isn’t well suited to do this. I also had to rethink a simpler solution.

Here’s the solution that I came up with: Once a month, I’ll send an short personal email out to family, friends, and associates, sharing my latest news, and invite them to reply to the email with their latest. Last month, I sent the first email. The email was sent in mass using mailchimp. Although, it was a mass email, my words were personal. I added a huge caption at the top of the email explaining why they were receiving the email, and it was ok if they wanted to unsubscribe to the email. I also asked friends to let me know whether they hated or loved my approach to staying in touch. Honestly, I was expecting most people to hate the email and unsubscribe with no response. It was quite the opposite. Most people replied and told me they thought it was a great idea. In addition, I learned a lot from the responses, and was able to reestablish contact with many friends. Some of my friends had recently moved or switched jobs. Some shared books that they were reading, and for a few, we made arrangements to meet up in person. I only heard from one person who responded and stated that he didn’t like the email because he thought it was impersonal. I was even thankful for his honest feedback. Overall, my first month of the “keep in touch” email was successful.

Later in the month, as I met more people at events, I found it a pain to log onto mailchimp to add new contacts to my email list. So, I created a Zapier task. Normally, when I meet someone at an event, I always send them a “Nice to meet you/Stay in touch” email. For the Zapier task, I created an email account specifically for this task. So, now when I send a “Nice to meet you” email, I bcc the created email account. The Zapier task is triggered once the account receives a new email, and then it automatically adds a new subscriber to my mailing list. And this is my staying in touch productivity hack.

How do you stay in contact with your network?

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About Hadiyah

Software Engineer, Entrepreneur, and Startup Aficionado. I co-founded a student venture firm for students at historically black colleges, HBCUvc, software development agency, Playpen Labs, and Black Founders nonprofit.