In the freelance writing sphere, we spend a considerable amount of time connecting with others through networking, meetings, social media, or emailing editors and business owners to make introductions. Before long, a month has passed, then three, then six. How do you stay in front of those influencers and important connections you’ve made throughout the year to stay relevant and fresh in their minds? Though touchpoints.
What are Touchpoints?
A touchpoint is an action you take to maintain a relationship with someone that you find value in. If it were running a marathon, it would be akin to seeing the water station every mile. Sometimes it’s needed, sometimes it’s not, but you know it’s there for you like clockwork, it’s a reliable source, and you know to expect it. In the same way, touchpoints show influencers that you’re consistent, reliable and available.
Types of Touchpoints
How you create your touchpoints depends on your personality and creativity. It can be as simple as periodic phone calls, emails and pop-bys to their office, or it can be a letter or small token mailed. The trick is to be consistent.
Here are a few ways, including the ones aforementioned, that I like to you that you can start trying immediately:
- Email: Don’t overwhelm their inboxes, but send timely messages as you provide new services, have story ideas, are in the area and would like to connect, or periodically to offer praise (maybe they were featured in a publication or online, won and award, or did something notable).
- Phone: Use the phone in a similar manner that you would use email. I would refrain from pitching on the phone as editors and influencers tend to be busy, but use the phone to set up a pitch (“Hey, I have a great story idea. Look for it in an email within the hour.”), verbally congratulate, or request a meeting.
- Pop-by: Use this technique sparingly and only visit when you have something to offer. I prefer a pop-by if I’m in the area and want to say a quick greeting, if I’m bringing a holiday gift (a basket for Christmas or chocolates for Valentine’s Day)
- Gift card: I like to use my Starbucks app to email cups of coffee. It’s easy. All you have to do is plug in their email address, select a card design, write your message and send it. It’s a pleasant surprise. As you get to know the people you want to make deeper connections with, you’ll discover their likes.
- Gift: Getting to know an influencer or contact means that you also get to know more about their personal likes and preferences. If you know that their favorite author is releasing a new book, buy it for them. If their favorite band is coming to town, get a pair of tickets. Using gifts shows that you pay attention to detail, something important to those decision makers you’re trying to reach, or maintain good relationships with.
- Social Sharing: Use your social media prowess to comment on their statuses and blog posts. Commenting is another way to show that you’re invested in building and maintaining relationships. Be sure to share, retweet, regram, plus one, and repin anything that resonates with you and that you think will add value to others.
When to Make a Touchpoint
I like to perform my first touchpoint the day I meet an influencer. I email them from my car using my iPhone usually thanking them for talking to me and I set up a meeting, if I feel that this is a connection that warrants a deeper conversation. Depending on the connection, I then reach out every three months, during some holidays (sometimes the more obscure the better as it’s more memorable, like April Fools’ Day, Earth Day or Cinco de Mayo).
Harvey Mackay, the author of the best-selling book “How to Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive” developed a system called the Mackay 66 for his company Mackay Envelope. He created a 66 point checklist for knowing his customers. He used this to win their loyalty through relationships. You can read the Mackay 66 here. It’s a great system to adopt, one I recommend.
Ready to Deepen Your Connections?
Zig Ziglar said it best when he said, “You get what you want by giving enough people what they want.” Touchpoints are a powerful too for building great relationships. Take care of your prized connections and they’ll remember you and eventually will give you the opportunities you’re seeking.
What other methods do you use? Please comment below to share them.
[tweetthis]“You get what you want by giving enough people what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar[/tweetthis]
Photo: Josh Russell