Ford Harding made a good point right before the year ended, one I'm going to kind of borrow and expand upon. In his December 29 post, he suggests calling your contacts at the end of the year to thank them for their business, ask them if they'd like their invoice before the end of the year, and so on. All great ideas.
The point of all this is that one of the most valuable assets in networking is an excuse to call people. However, it's equally important that the call go smoothly, which takes a little bit of planning. So, implement these ideas, but coupled with some idea of what you're going to say. In other words, it's not enough simply to have a valid reason to call someone. You also have to think through -- and this takes about one minute -- what you want to talk to them about, and where you want the conversation to go.
This is Sales 101 -- never lose control of the call. The point is that at all costs, you want to avoid a call that makes everyone feel a little uncomfortable and weird -- one that goes like this:
You: "Hi, Barack, this is Peter Darling. I'm going through my contacts, and trying to reconnect with people. We haven't spoken for a while, and I thought I'd give you a call and say "hello". How's it going?"
Barack: " Fine, thanks. Good to hear from you."
Uncomfortable silence in which nobody knows quite what to say next.
Use the "getting back in touch" approach, but never just wing it. Plan. The Boy Scouts were right -- be prepared.