Build More Meaningful Relationships
Ever found yourself thinking you should probably reach out to someone, but you just don’t know what to say? Maybe the relationship has been damaged, or it’s been so long it feels awkward. So, you skip it. You tell yourself that’s okay, next time. After all, keeping up with you network, especially meaningful connections, is hard work, right?
You’re not alone in thinking that. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.
We’ve solved the problem with the 5 Freebies: 5 simple concepts you can use to easily reach out to anyone at any time—so you can spend more time building relationships and less time stressing about what to say.
More Than Just Reading: The Pragmatics
This is meant to be a piece that empowers you to act upon the ideas within, rather than just skimming through and moving on. To that end we’ve built in exercises for you to complete throughout, each should take you no more than 4-7 minutes. Commit to this time and the results could be game-changing! Don’t move on to the next section until each exercise is completed.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4-5 names of contacts you would like to reach out to but haven’t.
- Your email open and ready.
- A willingness to commit to deepening your relationships.
- (Optional) A fantastic EM you can dictate this work to.
At the end of most of the Freebies below, you’ll find a template, some examples, and instructions to pick a name from your list to send the template to. Once each message is drafted you can move on to the next Freebie. The goal is that by the end of this you’ll have 4-5 outreach emails drafted that will help you deepen or rebuild relationships with people who are important to you.
Freebie #1 – The Classic
Starting with the most obvious choice first. If you can’t think of anything else, this makes a good fallback. I think you’ll find the other one’s are much more personalized and will add more value to an inbox, but when they don’t apply, this will.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. If it’s been a while since you’ve interacted with someone, use the following. But use it sparingly, once you do, you typically can’t send it again, at least not for several months if you want to avoid looking junior.
A Simple but Effective Example
I was thinking of you this morning and it made me realize that it’s been a while. I’d love to get a ping from you and hear what’s happening in your world. Can’t wait to hear from you!”
Alternate ending: “I’d love to grab coffee soon!” (When it becomes safe to do so)
Freebie #2 – Surprise Gratitude
This may be one of our favorites and potentially one of the most powerful of the freebies, because giving genuine thanks is one of the best things you can do to strengthen a relationship.
So, one of the best emails you can send is an unexpected Thank You for something they did in the past. Since we are so good at thanking people in the moment and then moving on, this will almost always come as a surprise, making it more impactful.
It doesn’t have to be anything huge they did. The smaller and more unexpected the better. It’ll catch them off guard and make their day.
An Easy Template
I wanted to write you to simply tell you Thank you! This afternoon, I was thinking about the last year and it came to mind that I never clearly said thank you for all the advice you have given me and our company over the years. You know you have made a huge impact and I am glad to have you as a friend.”
Which name on your list could you reach out to and offer a Thank You? (Mark it down). For example, you could say thanks for:
- a piece of advice they gave you,
- an introduction they made on your behalf,
- or a favor they did for you and may have forgotten about.
Freebie #3 – The Franklin Effect
Many think the best way to build relationships is to do someone a favor. But due to what’s commonly called the Ben Franklin effect, the opposite is true, the best way to deepen a relationship is to ask for a favor.
We’ll spare you a deep dive into the neuroscience, but it’s due to cognitive dissonance. People do favors for people they like, therefore, if someone does you a favor their brain will tell them that they like you.
Hot tip: Make the request so small the other person can’t help it. But it must be genuine, if it’s not something you truly need, you’re just wasting their time and your own. And, when asking for someone’s time, don’t ask for more than 20-minutes as a general Freebie rule.
I am wondering if you are willing to help me. I joined Acme Company a few months back and am now in the process of having to build a team. Do you know anyone who I could talk to about how to make great hiring choices?”
Pick a second name on your list you could ask a favor from like one of the following:
- Ask for advice on a specific topic (people love feeling like an expert).
- A book/blog/podcast recommendation.
- A vacation destination they loved.
Freebie #4 – Seeking Forgiveness
This is perhaps the most challenging. Apologizing can be difficult. Make it easier, focus on apologizing for super minor slights or mistakes. It’s better if it’s not even remembered and didn’t cause any harm or damage. This is just supposed to be a quick touch point, not make amends for a major wrongdoing.
Combine this with the “It’s Been A while Ping” if you can’t think of anything else. By apologizing for it having been so long since you interacted. This elevates Freebie #1 and allows you incorporate #4 without having done something that caused harm.
Example of A Clear and Simple Apology
You know, I just realized that I never really apologized for not having responded to your request to chat a while back. I do care about you and the only excuse I have that life has gotten into my way. Let me know if you have time soon and I’d love to make it up to you.”
You know the drill, pick a new name on your list, and get to apologizing. It can be:
- An email you never responded to.
- A small favor you never did.
- A missed birthday you didn’t send a message for (even if you normally don’t).
Freebie #5 – Positive Alacrity
For those of you familiar with our work you may have heard the term Positive Alacrity, or the art of delivering micro experiences that have a profoundly uplifting impact.
The rule here is when you think something positive that you genuinely believe, voice it.
Within the 5 Freebies this means sending a quick and unexpected message to someone highlighting something positive you genuinely appreciate. You’re not thanking them for anything. This should be more personal things about them that you happen to notice.
Sample Positive Alacrity
I was reading a recent blog post that you wrote (yours is one of the few blogs I consistently read) and I realized this is because you have a knack for taking complex ideas and simplifying them to the point where I can implement them. I’ve never met someone who has the ability teach in this way so effectively. I just wanted to say I really, really appreciate that.”
Now pick the next/last name on your list and think of something like:
- Their nature of always volunteering.
- Consistently being in an uplifting mood.
- Willingness to help, etc.
You should now have four or five names on your list that you’ve matched to one of the freebies above. If there’s a name you couldn’t match to a good one, you can even use “The Classic”.
Using the Freebies for the Greatest Effect
Using any one of these emails is nearly guaranteed to bring a smile to someone’s face and potentially reignite a conversation and deepen a relationship.
But there are some good tips to keep in mind when utilizing these to make sure you get the full benefits.
- Be specific. If you’re thanking some don’t just thank for “all the ways” they’ve helped you in your career. Single out a piece of advice that stuck out. Even better if you can share the results or how this advice has helped you.
- Mix and match. Try combining 2 or 3 of the Freebies into one email. It’s more effective than any one alone. Apologize for it being so long since you last connected (The Apology Email) and say you’d love to catch up soon (the “It’s Been A While Ping”), then thank them for a specific piece of advice they gave you that helped you (The Thank You).
In the end there’s no right or wrong way to use the freebies if it’s authentic and genuine.
But if you’d like some inspiration, we’ve created a handy reference PDF that you can download here: