Relationships are both fun and valuable. That’s my takeaway from Business of Software this year.
Not that I didn’t know it before. But this year I hit my stride. I connected with more people, more deeply, than I ever have before.
Yes, I flitted around, trying to meeting new people—sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
But this year I had the specific aim of deepening my existing relationships.
I spent time catching up with people and getting back in touch. I hosted a dinner Saturday night to spend intimate time with a smaller group. I reached out before and after to people I knew.
But the reality is that after a conference, life takes over.
Swept up in the whirlwind of trying to run a business, have a life and pursue exciting projects, I forget to stay in touch with people. And so those relationships that could be so much more fade a bit. We’re still connected, but the energy is lost.
The value of a conference like Business of Software is the people.
It’s a small conference—capped at 400 attendees—and everyone there is facing similar challenges running a software company. Being around others facing the same challenges as you, who speak the same language, energizes you—even if you’re an introvert like me (or maybe especially so). Wouldn’t it be great to keep that energy high throughout the year?
It’s not restricted to Business of Software. Every time I visit Boston or another city, I meet fantastic people I’d like to stay in touch with. And then, inevitably, I don’t.
Part of the problem is that I don’t like contacting people.
I dread phone calls and procrastinate e-mails. I’m fine in person when I can see and react to someone, but don’t like low bandwidth communication with those I don’t know. Not that I don’t do it all the time for business. But it’s not my preferred method of maintaining relationships.
Today I aim to change that.
In the vein of starting small, I’m starting a 10 day experiment. Each day I will spend 10 minutes contacting 1 person in my LinkedIn contacts. I’ll say hi, give them some useful piece of information and ask them one question.
The useful piece of information might be something I recently learned that I think they’ll find valuable or a link to an interesting article.
The question will be something to help deepen our relationship. Potential questions might be:
- Is there anything I can do to help you in your business or life right now?
- What’s something interesting about you that I don’t know?
- What is the passion that drives you to wake up each morning?
I expect at least half the people I e-mail will be too busy to respond. But the other half—well, maybe I’ll start to get to know them better.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll start developing a habit I can continue throughout the year.
So next time I see someone in person, it’ll be a continuation of an ongoing relationship rather than catching up with someone I lost touch with.
Who knows, this might be the beginning of some beautiful friendships.