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Stay in Touch | #MyFridayStory No. 127

Stay in Touch | #MyFridayStory No. 127

Don’t you love your birthday?

Not for the presents, although that’s a nice part, but it’s a day you can soak up all the love and attention without seeming self-serving. As an adolescent, I recall deciding to try and remember friends and family’s birthdays. I thought it’s a nice trait to wish people on their special day. Since then, I have tried to capture the birthday of folk that come into my life.

Some years later in 1987, as a marketing student, I was exposed to the world of databases. This was 3 years before the launch of Microsoft Office or any other form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. I was fortunate to have a brother 11 years older who was an early adopter of the new world of personal computing. He taught me about the power of using a computer. I captured the data using VisiCalc and on an Apple II computer.

Around the same time, as a marketing student, I came to understand the value of good, clean data. Because I had an understanding of how an electronic database functions, I knew what could be done. I became intrigued about how using data offers a more personalised and relevant service.

In the early 90s, I had a take-out restaurant called Yanks Diner and Milky Way. I ran a simple competition for the patrons: Drop a business card into the fishbowl to stand a chance of winning a free meal for two. We’d draw the name each month and invite them for a free meal. The campaign was a great success.

I captured every business card into my database. As the owner, I was always present at the shop. Over the years, many of the customers became good friends.

Some time later, I left the restaurant business and joined a financial services company. An important pillar of providing financial services is having enough people to see. I approached the business owners, decision-makers and leaders of communities in my database. Many offered to be my “centres of influence.” Each of these referred me to their circle of friends and colleagues. I was fortunate to call many of them my clients.

By now I had progressed to using Microsoft Outlook. I could communicate with anyone via phone or email. I made sure the experience was always personal. As an early adopter of handheld technology, this was made possible by syncing my Palm Pilot and desktop.

By 2000, I had over 6000 contacts.

Before email, I used to post a card, handwritten using calligraphy, to my clients. Whether it was for their birthday, their wedding anniversary or Christmas. If I had their kids birthdays noted, I’d call the parents to send wishes. A few naysayer onlookers thought my approach was cheesy or unsustainable. I never thought congratulating someone on their birthday is tacky or offensive in any way. So I carried on anyway.

An authentic motive will always shine through.

I joined LinkedIn in 2009 and was able to reconnect with many of the people I had met over the years. The platform allowed me to connect with people as I have always believed it should be done. LinkedIn is a “permission” platform where a work-related (professional) conversation can happen. You can safely share, like and engage with other relevant, professional content posted by fellow connections.

Using LinkedIn has allowed me to connect with other like-minded people, and build great relationships over time. We have met at coffee shops and in chat-rooms. We meet in the LinkedIn feeds and have personal chats in the messages.

I’m blessed to have such awesome connections; many I call friends. Please let’s continue wishing each other “Happy birthday!” every year.

And please, stay in touch.

Have an awesome weekend! 😄

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it tremendously 🙏

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