This week’s question comes from Yasmine in the UK:
Q: Hi Dave! How should I reconnect with people in my social network that I haven’t spoken to in years? What is the best way to do this without sounding weird?
How many of your Facebook friends do you actually know?
This week’s question comes from Yasmine:
Hi Dave! My name is Yasmine Higgins. I’m from the UK and I have watched your Building Social Network video, which was really interesting for me.
I have a Facebook account where I have over one thousand people which I know from my high school and university years, and from my previous companies.
However, I never maintained contact with them. And apart from ten people, I hardly remember their names and our communication has come to a full stop with many people. But I want to make contact with all of them again.
How would be the best possible way to do this, [and] not to sound weird after many years of [not] contacting them and now contacting? So, I…need your valuable advice.
Such a challenging question, Yasmine! I spent a lot of time thinking about my answer to this. I even had a conversation with my wife and she’s no fan of social media. I asked her what she thought wouldn’t be weird.
For context, let’s consider something called Dunbar’s number. It was proposed by an anthropologist back in the nineties and says that the average person can only maintain about one hundred to two hundred and fifty contacts until their memory and their connections just start to break down. Another anthropologist dived in, did a little more research and found that the number might be closer to three hundred.
Regardless of what the number is, the idea is that there’s an upper limit to how many people one can remember and maintain contact with.
Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about two stages toward reconnecting with people. First, just build and maintain those three hundred contacts. Take a look at the people that you do know and get in the habit of connecting with them. Find ways to do things for them. The easiest way to do this online is through simple things like comments and likes. That is the currency of social media. It’s easy to kindle relationships with people simply by being aware of what they are doing and participating in their posts.
One person who has done this with me consistently is Mohammad Zafar. He’s someone that friended me on Facebook and has consistently commented on and reacted to my posts, to the point that I’ve started to get to know him and I am comfortable enough with who he is that I can mention him in a video like this.
But what about those that you haven’t had contact with for such a long time and maybe they don’t even remember you? What I recommend is to reach out slowly and carefully, taking small steps at a time. Perhaps reach out to one—maybe two—people per week. See what they’re up to. Take a look at their social media profiles. How can you help them?
In my LinkedIn Learning course on Building Your Professional Network, I talk about using the principle of “give first.” In other words, come into the mindset of “what can I do for this person?” rather than “what can they do for me?” A great example of this for me was David Pappoe Jr. from Ghana. He knew that I was a speaker and there was an event taking place in Accra at that time. He reached out to me and said that he could get me in as a speaker.
He set things up so that I was a featured speaker for that event. I spent a few days with him in Accra, and we became very close friends. And it’s all because he reached out to me on social media and helped me with something important to me. And now, I am can help him when he needs me.
I hope that gives you a starting point to rekindle those connections and grow your network. Thanks for the great question, Yasmine!
And if you have a question for me, all you have to do is go to www.davecrenshaw.com/ask and you can send me a video question just like Yasmine.
I look forward to hearing from you.