It’s Sunday night. I am tired. I just want to go to sleep. The groceries have been put away, tomorrow’s clothes have been set out and I have bus fare ready to go. Business cards, resumes and tomorrow’s career exploration tools are in place right by the front door. But wait, though the descent into the mattress seems imminent, there’s one more important follow-up piece that must be done before the eyelids close in on this day.
A man asked earlier in the week at a presentation, “How many of you have those stacks of business cards, the tall ones with huge rubber bands?” He chuckled and continued, “I look at those as motivation for following through on contacting new contacts by the end of the day.” He’s right. A business card is useless unless it can be found and acted upon. A little bit of network follow-up daily prevents the entire exercise from being wasted. Worse yet, how often have we promised to follow-up with a call, an email, a link, another contact…And those broken promises weigh heavily on us.
This means tonight will be followed by many more evenings at the computer. But that greasing of the wheel works far more effectively than the clutter of what I will begin by fondly calling “those paper little stacks of guilt.” The ones on our desks reminding us that we should sort them, date them, categorize them, write notes, and contact the person. It can seem tedious or tiresome at a time when we’d rather kick back and relax. Relaxation should indeed occur…right after that little extra is done. Now is the time to follow up with promises both to the person on the card and to one’s self. I owe it to myself to leverage the power of these “Little Paper Stacks of Potential.”
Potential is a flame in a windstorm. An extremely short shelf life, the memory fades and the potential is overcome by the inertia of doing nothing with that potential. Yes, it is fun to party and network, but what is gained if you never cement that relationship? How many of us have had a great time at a party followed by the let-down that none of those people will actually keep in touch. It feels fake and lonely, like opportunity wasted. Empty promises, the let-down can bring you down.
So now it is time to turn those little paper stacks into something tangible and real. Turning relationships in the “partysphere” into non-virtual relationships in the real world. Which reminds me that I have some emails to write, some Facebook friending to do and some LinkedIn Invitations to send. To boot, I’ll even add a personal touch with a few good old fashioned thank you notes.