I was watching an episode of The Office where Michael quits Dunder Mifflin and recruits Pam and Ryan to start a new paper company. In this episode, Michael tries to get his former Dunder Mifflin clients to switch over and buy paper from his new company. In an effort to thwart Michael, Dwight tells him, Pam and Ryan to meet him for lunch and then sneaks into their empty office to steal Michael’s rolodex with all his clients’ information.Pam mentions that she had spent months entering all the contact information into Michael’s Blackberry so that he wouldn’t have to use the rolodex anymore but I’ll save that for another post. Moving on.Dwight goes through the business cards and discovers that Michael had written two words behind each one of them. The words were meant to help him remember who each client was so that he could have more personable conversations every time he called them to renew their paper contract.
Reading the two words behind his own business card Dwight says, “Schrute comma Dwight. And on the back he wrote great salesman, better friend.” Then he shakes his head at the camera and says, “Tall and beats.”
Some of us have Twitter accounts, LinkedIn accounts and Facebook profiles and pages where we follow, connect with and befriend hundreds of people. That’s a ton of contacts. But how many do we really know? How many do we pretend to know? Are we ever really interested in people? Do we just follow, befriend or connect with those whose acquaintance might be beneficial to us in the future?We’re constantly looking for ways to turn down some of the noise online. So I understand how writing two keywords behind a business card can be perfectly acceptable as a jumping off point. But if you stop there then you are not doing yourself of anyone else any justice. There is more depth to people than two words.I’d had the opportunity to meet some great, brilliant people through a few of my social networks. People who I’m sure I will stay in touch with for many many years to come. Yes, it’s impossible get to know everyone we meet on our social networks. My point is, if the opportunity does present itself – don’t just let it pass you. Take the time to jot down a few more words behind people’s business cards. You may exchange a few tweets after that, maybe an email or two, maybe you’ll never speak to or see that person again. But don’t discount the chances that one day – when the timing is just right – you’ll might find yourself going through your Rolodex and that person is exactly who you needed to talk to at that moment in our life.It’s simple actually. Be human. Don’t get greedy. Be genuine. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t sign up for any service that promises to get you 300 followers per day or turn you into a social media superstar. That would be like stealing the bowl of business cards from a restaurant that collects them to give away free lunches, saving the contact information and spamming everyone. And dishonest Rolodex is nothing to be proud of. You would only be helping dilute the definition of the word “relationship” and those are tough to develop, nurture and take to the next level as it is.