Many of you have read my post on How to Use Evernote as a Contact Manager.
In fact, it’s the highest-read post on this blog, because life is really not about “managing” contacts or contact information necessarily, but Relationships. I’ll provide a link to that article at the end of this post.
In a world where everything is now mobile, everything syncs, everyone is always in a hurry, relationships often become splintered, fragmented; or, like a garden, neglected.
When Facebook first started some 6+ years ago, for most people it was largely a popularity contest to see who could get the most “Friends” or “Likes”. To a large extent mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone have made it easier for us as Humans to “connect” with each other; but are we truly “connecting”?
Are “Friends” and “Followers” on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook “True Friends”, or are they more akin to “Acquaintances”, if even that?
In a presentation, Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder and CEO of Facebook, recently demonstrated that the amount of articles, videos, information, data and content being shared among Facebook users, if printed out on paper and stacked vertically could reach to the moon and back from Earth; and he did so as if it were a good thing.
Sharing content and “connecting” are not bad things; but like anything else in life, too much of anything is at the least, distracting; and at the most, paralyzing Digital Noise. Exponential growth in the sharing of content is wonderful for Facebook investors, but content is only valuable if it has an audience that makes time to consume it.
If the time in our day that we devote to “connecting and sharing” is finite, which it is, but the volume of information being shared is growing exponentially, one need not be Albert Einstein to figure out that maintaining a fixed amount of time each day while increasing volume decreases the Attention that we are capable of giving each piece.
Some likely don’t even get any attention at all. So while an increasing use of social media, email and other channels is great for Facebook investors and startups who need to demonstrate growth and usage, the Fractionalization and Fragmentation of our own individual Attention is suffering.
It is simply impossible to maintain a True Relationship with 5,000 “Friends”
As I continue to preach here: If the Problem is “Too Much”, the Solution will in every instance be “Less”. But getting to “Less” is not easy to accomplish.
We live in a society that has engrained in our psyche that “More is Better”; but where information is concerned, More is very often “Digital Noise”; and Digital Noise is not a Relationship.
Why True Relationships are More Important than “Friends”
- People buy products and services from Human Beings, not from Corporations or Brands
- People buy from people they Trust; or, they buy from people who they get introduced to through a person that they have a relationship with
Thus if you’re reading this and you work in Sales, you really need to understand that the game has changed significantly in the past ten years.
Consumers don’t want to be SOLD TO. They want to be (and are) in the driver’s seat and empowered to conduct research prior to making an informed purchasing decision.
Thus the Opportunity for Big Brands and those who work in Sales is no longer a Numbers Game.
The Opportunity – and it’s a huge opportunity – is for individuals and brands to form True Relationships with People. Human Beings; and to provide them with a simple, easy way to research the information that they need in order to make an educated purchasing decision or obtain a recommendation from a Trusted Friend.
So really it’s not about Closing The Deal. True, that may be how you as an individual are compensated by the company that you work for; but Closing The Deal is an Outcome of a Referral Introduction or Relationship. It’s NOT the Initial Catalyst.
The Catalyst is being able to form True Relationships with People.
I’ve found that in the Age of Distraction and Digital Noise, the best way to achieve this is to follow these very simple rules:
1. Slow Down. Stop. Breathe and Think.
Most of us spend the majority of our time in Reaction Mode, putting out fires and responding to Other Peoples’ needs.
This leaves us little or no time at all for our own. Schedule time on your calendar to just go to a quest place, turn off your beeping devices, unplug for a brief period of time and just THINK.
Keep a pen and a pad of paper or journal next to you because you’re going to find that once you deliberately stop operating in Reactive Mode, your mind will fill with ideas and thoughts. Write them down, no matter how crazy they may seem.
2. Deliberately Simplify Your Life.
I’ve written in the past and spoken at conferences on the process and benefits of “Deliberate Simplification”. That’s an entire article in and of itself; but for now, focus on simplifying your relationships.
What I’m speaking of is “Social Pruning”.
This means going through your Twitter list and your Facebook lists and deliberately hiding or omitting people who are negative, who don’t add value to your life or who you don’t make time to read and interact with.
This is a very tough thing to do for many people because as humans we have an inherent fear of not wanting to offend others. We are ON Facebook because it meets a psychological need – it validates us and makes us feel “Liked”.
Yet if you don’t actively practice Social Pruning, if you don’t deliberately eliminate and reduce the number of people you interact with to a manageable number, you are doing ALL of them a true disservice because each is not getting your full Attention, only a small sliver or tiny superficial fraction of it; and that’s not a Relationship.
3. The Power of The 10-Minute Phone Call.
At times I worry about the current generation growing up and how they interact with each other. I have children myself and as a father I can see that this new generation can actually be in the same room together physically and prefer to send text messages back and forth rather than have a face to face conversation. Many of them abhor using the phone as a speaking device.
Each generation is different, and I’m not criticizing their choices, but I feel they’re missing out on the value of true human interaction.
As I mentioned above, I wrote a very popular post that is globally read on how to use Evernote as a Relationship Management Tool. But like any technology, it only works if you deliberately make a habit to actually USE it.
What works for me may not work for you, nor should it. It’s up to you to try new things and experience life, to find out what works for you personally what does not.
What works best for me are 10-Minute Phone Calls
- I can say what I mean in a way that is not misinterpreted in tone
- I can get more accomplished in a two-way conversation by phone than I could ever do in a one-hour exchange of emails
- I don’t contribute to the other person’s existing overload of email
- And I don’t do it every day with every person
I know many of you reading this are likely thinking: “There is just no way a 10-minute phone call doesn’t go longer than 10-minutes. It turns into a time suck.”
If this is you, then you need to read my earlier article on “How to Get Off the Phone Without Being Rude”. Set a time limit and own it. Be respectful of the other person’s time. Keep yourself accountable. I’ve included a link to that article at the bottom of this one.
While I myself am not Jewish, the Talmud says that being late even a few minutes to a meeting is considered Stealing Other People’s Time. So honor the limits that you set, whether it is a 10-minute call, a 20-minute call or an in-person meeting. Be punctual. Start on time. End on time. Eat your own dog food, even if it means you need to set a countdown timer.
Others of you are reading this wondering what you can possibly talk about or accomplish in just 10 minutes that has any substance or value.
Here’s a good starting point: Don’t make it about YOU. Make it about THEM.
“How can I help you this week?”
Everybody needs help with something each week, no matter who they are; and everyone is an Expert at something; but you’ll never know the answer to this question if you don’t ask it, and you’re not likely to remember it unless you WRITE IT DOWN when they tell it to you.
Once you make the conversation about THEM, people love to talk about themselves. Their barriers come down and True Relationships start to grow, which in turn sparks that person taking an interest in what YOU do.
You’re no longer talking AT them. You’re LISTENING to them and having a CONVERSATION. This is significantly different from posting a photo of a plate of sushi that you ate at a nearby restaurant to your Facebook account. That’s TRANSMITTING. It may or may not even be SEEN, let alone matter to many who just don’t have the time due to other priorities in life.
Leo Babauta of ZenHabits claims that it takes at least a full 30 days to permanently establish any new Habit; and that the best way to begin with the great chance of success is by beginning with something that is both achievable and small – something doable.
Start with just THREE PEOPLE that you call every two weeks. As you fine-tune your craft and become more comfortable with it, make it TEN; and use Evernote, Things, Google Calendar or even a simple Text Editor or Excel File to track your 10-minute calls and what they need help with. If you can’t, that’s okay too, because these days very few people ask that question and they will remember you for it.
Or if you can’t help them, perhaps you can make a brief introduction to someone who can. Most of the time it takes perhaps five minutes of our time to make the right introduction or ten minutes of sharing knowledge by phone, yet we are all so busy being busy that we don’t deliberately make this happen.
End the call punctually by telling them that you want to be respectful of their time.
And then go HELP THEM. Do so with no expectations in return. Just HELP.
THIS they will remember about you. What do YOU want to be remembered for?
I’ll be listening in the Comments below. Try this for 30 days and tell me how it works for you!
Additional Reading / Viewing:
- Me, having fun
- How to Use Evernote as a Contact Manager – (Relationship Manager)
- How to Get Off the Phone Without Being Rude