The Personal Touch

OK, this never happens! It’s time to administer the final exam to my public speaking class. Of course, there’s nervous energy and tension in the room. A student that I’m going to call Jingying (because that’s her name) asks if she can say something to the entire class. Jingying is the shy, quiet type, so to make it through a public speaking class (with flying colors by the way) is saying something. And asking to make an announcement to her classmates is, well, saying something else.

Jingying thanked the entire class for sharing so many personal stories and for helping her learn how to overcome her fear of public speaking. Yes, a Kodak moment. Then, she handed out envelopes to each student that she had organized according to seating arrangements. (I’m not making this up.) Each envelope contained a handwritten card with a personalized note highlighting what she liked about stories they shared throughout the term and the value she gained. (A far cry from ‘Happy holidays Bob!’)

Jingying received hugs and a few tears because she took so much time and thought to say thank you. Tell me that the class won’t remember her forever! In fact, a few students shared how much they love receiving handwritten letters and cards – something I never expected to hear from millennials. (Look that one up!)

Yes, there are many online resources (some free) that make it easy to pop a card in the mail – so to speak. But these cards get deleted. Handwritten cards and other thoughtful gestures get remembered. And then there’s Jingying.

As a financial advisor, real estate agent, and in many other sales roles, it’s part of the job to stay in touch with people. Not only does the thought count but creativity counts twice as much.

Here are some ways you can add the personal touch when you want to wish a happy holiday, offer a thank you, or simply show someone you were thinking about them.

Handwritten cards
I drop five in the mail on most days. That’s 25 a week, 100 a month, and so on. Nothing fancy, I just write what’s on my mind. If I have an ongoing storyline with a prospect, client, referral source, associate, or friend (follow the same sports team, catch dinner whenever I’m in town, participate in the same sport or activity, watch the same television shows), then I’ll mention it in the note. “Looking forward to chatting about that last episode of Homeland!”

I have colleagues that always tell me about great books they’ve read so I’m aware of what they like and their interests. It’s easy enough to send a book to someone these days. It’s inexpensive, has a personal flair, and is value added. If you’re not sure what book to get, send them mine!

Magazine Subscription
A lot of magazines offer a “two for one” sale for the holidays. Why not send a magazine subscription to a client? Make sure the magazine reflects their interests although business magazines like Inc. and Fast Company are always a safe bet. Getting someone a magazine, periodical, or newspaper subscription shows you’re thinking about them and it costs very little (if anything). Every week or month (or day) throughout the course of the year, when your client (or whomever) receives their issue of Fine Gardening, they will think of you!

Favorite “something”
A colleague of mine keeps the bottle of Crown Royal that I got him for his birthday on his desk. It’s his favorite brown beverage! The bottle is decorative and has a rich look to it. It has become a conversation piece to all that visit his office. And every time he has a sip, guess who he thinks of? 

Movies, whether they’re in theaters, on cable, or on demand, are always a great way to make a conversation fun. It’s also a nice way to break the ice and get a better understanding of someone’s interests, likes, dislikes, opinions, and background. These days DVD’s are easy enough to send to clients and prospects so why not take advantage the next time you’re surfing Amazon?

Golf, bulldogs, pirates, watches, cars, fantasy football, Disney characters, marathons, and bow ties. I have clients that have interests in all of these areas and with all of these things. If you can get to know a client well enough to learn something about them (hint!) it makes it much easier to be thoughtful when the time is right. 

Adding the personal touch is not only an effective “staying in touch” strategy but its fun. Real fun! Especially when gifts and kind words get returned. And sometimes staying in touch turns to business.

Out of sight is out of mind!

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