Have you ever seen the movie The Devil Wears Prada? In one of the film’s pivotal scenes Andy (played by the lovely Ann Hathaway) is attending a black tie benefit with her boss Miranda–a notoriously difficult fashion editor played by Meryl Streep. Her role is simply to stand at Miranda’s ear and whisper the names of incoming guests to her along with a small piece of conversation. These tidbits of information allow Miranda to appear observant and interested.
The movie may be contrived in Hollywood, but if you take a moment to watch the coverage of British Royal events or Presidential balls, you will see the same thing happening in precession lines all over the world. Assistants of this sort are prized for their ability to memorize and quickly recall information.
Unfortunately, most of us are not born into royalty or Hollywood. Nor can we afford an assistant to follow us from place to place, whispering cues in our ear. Luckily, with a little preparation, we have at our fingertips the ability to replicate this phenomenon. Enter the world of CRM’s—Customer Relationship Management Programs—and social networks.
Utilizing a smart phone and a system allows us to replicate much of the work of a discreet assistant at your ear. It doesn’t end there. Through technology, we can stay in touch with our contacts, track key information about the relationships, and prepare for events all with a few clicks on a tiny computer screen!If, like me, you were building relationships long before the smart phone, you should be really excited about how much easier this little tool makes it! Follow the steps below to make the daily habits of relationship development easy. Just remember all this technology is about one thing: belly-to-belly relationship development and making real connections.
1. Create a system . When it comes to technology—especially the online kind (and what isn’t anymore?)—you can easily drown in a sea of new toys and trends. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to commit to one system and stick with it. We all have different preferences when it comes to technology. Some might prefer a cloud-based tool that allows you to enter information on many different devices, while others like to keep it simple and use the notepad feature on their phone or computer.
2. Create connections in the moment. When you make a connection at an event, take a moment to whip out your smart phone and exchange contact information right there. That way you won’t have to remember to add his/her business card to your database when you get back to the office and the pile on your desk. Take this a step further by keeping your calendar on your phone. That way you can set up follow-up appointments and reminders for yourself in the moment. Utilizing this simple process has saved me hours of hunting down business cards!
3. Use automation tools. To Do Lists that remind you to pick up the dry cleaning when you’re driving past the strip mall, email responders that send one letter to thousands of connections, and social media scheduling tools all have their place in an efficient networker’s arsenal. Using automation tools correctly can make you feel like you’ve just hired a full-time assistant.
4. Leverage social media. Social media is a great place to update your relationships on what is happening in your life, make new connections, and nurture old ones—all with just a few clicks. Take the time to find the sites where your networks spend their time and interact with them there. A wealth of information on how you can help others is right at your fingertips, even at two a.m.!
5. Think big, spend small. Technology gives us access to potential relationships all over the globe. This can be both positive and negative. Use the tools you have wisely and your relationships will be stronger for it. When looking for ways to help someone or for relationship possibilities, think big. Reach out to people near and far in social media and join discussions about your interests with people all over the globe. When building relationships utilizing technology, miles are no longer the be-all-end-all. The dark side of all this choice is that it becomes easy to hunt for the lowest bidder instead of nurturing relationships you trust. When it comes to giving a referral or making a purchase, try to use someone you have a relationship with first. Spending $30 more for a new bike at your local bike shop might seem like a waste now, but in a few years when the bike needs a tune up, the connection to a local business could save you $150.
These days, in a global economy with so many choices, we need to be exceptional at most things in order to win. Utilizing technology is the best way to do that, unless you’re lucky enough to have an intern with a photographic memory on speed dial!
Author's note: An up-to-date list of all my favorite technology tools for relationship building can be found in my book "Harnessing the Power of Relationships," and on the companion website www.harnessingthepowerofrelationships.com.
Andy Bluestone is a networker
and relationship development strategist. He is the author of numerous articles
and a new book, "Harnessing the Power of Relationships." As president
and CEO of Selective
Benefits Group, he has recruited more than 2,300 sales reps and is actively
engaged in helping closely held companies reduce costs in their 401(k) plans
and create an added value to the participants' experience in their plans.
NOTE: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.
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