The Results: 10 Days of Keeping in Touch

Three weeks ago I started My 10 Day Experiment in Keeping in Touch. My goal was to contact a different person each day that I had fallen out of touch with and re-connect.

When I wrote the post, I thought I’d use a formula: say hi, give them some useful piece of information and ask them one question. I rarely did that.

Some people I wrote long e-mails to, some I wrote short e-mails. Sometimes I gave them an update on my life first, sometimes I just asked a question. Every e-mail wound up being customized and personal.

It depended on who I was writing, what our relationship was and what I was feeling in the moment. I aimed for an authentic connection first and foremost.

The experiment succeeded. I haven’t mastered the art of staying in touch, but I’m encouraged by my initial results.

The Numbers

During the experiment, I reached out to 10 people I had met previously, but failed to stay in touch with. Six people responded, resulting in:

  • 2 awesome conversations
  • 2 good conversations
  • 2 pleasant responses

Most e-mails took 10-15 minutes to write. The longest took 28 minutes (and resulted in a great conversation!). On average, including followup conversations, I spend 22 minutes per day doing the experiment.

(I do 24/7 time-tracking—a topic for a separate post—which is where these numbers come from.)

Extrapolating, if I contact 200 people a year, I’ll have 40 awesome conversations, 40 good conversations and 40 others I stay in touch with. That’s 120 people I don’t talk to now.

The Relationships

Numbers don’t tell the real story though. Sure, I got responses from 60% of the people I contacted. But even if only one person responded and I had an awesome, amazing conversation with that person, it would have been worth it.

As it was, I had two awesome conversations–conversations where we connected strongly, shared each other’s challenges and successes, and inspired each other with ideas.

With two people, we had a brief back-and-forth, caught up with each other and wished each other luck in the future. Two others sent pleasant responses that didn’t evolve into a conversation, but helped maintain our prior relationship and kept us in touch.

The best result of the experiment? I had fun doing it. Every contact I thoroughly enjoyed.

The more I put myself out there, the better relationships I develop. I’m learning how to care about and help others in new ways, which is incredibly fulfilling.

And it’s getting easier. I feel more comfortable with each new person I contact.

The Stumbles

My experiment wasn’t perfect. I decided to skip weekends, so that pushed the experiment out to 14 days. Then I missed two weekdays, making it take 16 days total to finish my experiment.

Last week I traveled to the Bay Area. I met several new people and reconnected with others in person, but I completely failed to continue the experiment that week.

But I’ll heed Hermione’s comment from my kick-off post:

Like all habits, there are days (weeks) when it gets drowned out, and I expect that might happen to you, too. But I always go back to it, because the human connection makes me feel good.

This week I plan to start again.

The Techniques

I learned a few things during my experiment.

If I don’t have any idea who I’m going to contact on a given day, I either don’t contact anyone at all or I spend too much time figuring out who to contact.

To solve this, I now have a list of people in Excel to contact. By reducing the effort required, I’m far more likely to create a habit out of this. I’m also more inspired in my connections, since I can choose the person based on my mood that day.

I don’t always use the list. The LinkedIn Connected app on my phone tells me key events in my contact’s lives. When an update inspires me to reconnect, I go with that inspiration.

On my desktop, I use the Keep In Touch on the Connections menu in LinkedIn to see people’s updates. Contact reminders also get shown here. I haven’t had much success with those in the past, but may try experimenting with those again.

When writing e-mails, I try to share information about myself and to ask questions about the person I’m contacting. I sometimes share links or other insights that I’ve learned recently that I think might be relevant.

The Future

I plan to continue the experiment and make it part of my daily rituals. I’ve proven to myself that it doesn’t take much time.

When re-connections happen, they can be so powerful and fulfilling. If you take the time to care about other people and connect with them, they’ll do the same for you.

I encourage you to try the experiment for yourself.

Spend 20 minutes to identify 10 people to contact, then spend 22 minutes a day over the next 10 days contacting and replying to people.

You’ll be amazed what those 4 hours do for your relationships and your own personal happiness.

Interested in re-connecting? Shoot me an e-mail or comment below. 

4 comments

  1. Jeff L says:

    You are an interesting character, Trevor. I, too, will occasionally challenge myself in ways that will eventually improve the quality of my life. Our schedules tend to fill up with an excessive emphasis on the day’s tasks that we lose sight of our personal and professional goals. We may get today’s tasks done but at what cost? We justify getting caught up in the minutia because we believe it will free us up later to do the things we are neglecting. The fallacy with that argument is there will always be minutia. The reality of being a tech entrepreneur is there will always be those “crunch times” where you do need to focus on one or two things to the detriment of everything else. The trick is finding ways to keep it from taking over your life. I applaud your efforts! Thanks for sharing!

    Jeff

  2. Lisa Thompson says:

    Very interesting experiment and I enjoyed reading about how it. One thing that resonated with me was your comment, “The longest took 28 minutes (and resulted in a great conversation!)” Another case case of you get out of it what you put into it. Food for thought….

    Lisa

    1. trevor says:

      Lisa,

      With the limited data I have, it doesn’t seem to be the case that the more time I take composing the initial e-mail, the better connection I have.

      The time seems to be more a factor of me being self-conscious about contacting someone and wanting to make the wording exactly right. It seems to take less time and get a better response to be authentic and write from the gut.

      Though, again, I have limited data.

      Of the next two longest e-mails to write, one took 23 minutes and got a pleasant response and the other took 18 minutes and got no response. The two good conversations I had only took 12 & 14 minutes, respectively, to write the initial e-mail.

      But I’ll find out over time if there’s a pattern to successfully connecting with people or not. I suspect there’s some general things to increase success, but it’s also individual based on who you’re reaching out to.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting.

      Trevor

  3. Debbie Francis says:

    Great experiment and a good reminder to me to do the same. I reconnect with people regularly, but in my mind.

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