By Todd Smithee

Strong business relationships are likely the most valuable asset you manage in your professional and personal life.  These relationships can take years to develop and require regular nurturing to maintain.  Do yourself a favor and go the extra mile to keep your relationships and career going strong—pick up the phone.

Email, electronic newsletters, and snail mail are great ways to keep your business contacts updated on your activities and achievements.  Typically, they are one-way communications, designed to tell your contacts something about yourself or your company. But psychologists and sales trainers know an important fact: people like to talk about themselves. This is something people aren’t that likely to do in response to your newsletter or email.  It’s easy, though, to get people to talk about themselves during a phone call.

A tremendous amount of information can be obtained in a simple three-minute phone conversation.  You can learn about your contact’s business, including whether it is growing, whether there are expansion plans in the works, and whether you might be of assistance.  Just as important, you can learn how your contact’s personal life is going.  Are their kids going off to college?  Where are they going for vacation this summer?  Did they recently become grandparents?  While these things may not seem directly connected to the particular professional solutions you provide, they are critical to building bridges that eventually lead to business.

So, do yourself a favor.  Continue to keep your contacts updated about your business with newsletters and email.  They are critical, effective means of communicating with your contacts and associates.  But do not forget to pick up the phone once in a while and strengthen the relationship with two-way conversation.  You might be surprised at what you learn.