Greeting Cards & Networking
“Tis the season”, or so the saying goes. Every year my family sends Holiday Greetings & Well Wishes to friends & family. For the past 14 years I have included a newsletter updating folks on the occurrences of the past year. This past year I have spent a great deal of my time ‘Networking.’ The following article attempts to provide the ironic parallel between networking & exchanging Holiday (Christmas) greeting cards.
Each year we mail ’give’ approximately 120 Holiday Cards, that’s a long list of relatives, friends, neighbors & co-workers. We get approximately 60 cards in return, some admittedly arrive before we mail out our greetings. Call me the bean-counter, but I keep a tally of addresses & who we ‘receive’ cards from. Which gets to my point, (in Andy Rooney style)… I understand “it is better to give than receive”, or so I was taught. Is it not the same with Networking?
I sometimes wonder though… Do people really care about my newsletter/Christmas card & the thought tucked behind them? Is there any interest? When you are truly networking, aren’t you suppose to take an interest in the other person? How can you help them, & in turn they may someday hopefully return the favor. I don’t want to ‘get deep’ on you, but do you think maybe these folks don’t see the correlation between greeting cards & holiday spirit & the true meaning & benefit of Networking? You know the essence of the season & all that? Some folks do write back! Other folks prefer to “reach out & touch someone” with a phone call or a mass e-mailing. That’s nice too.
What about the people that never send a card? Yet we continue to send them one? Maybe they don’t care about updates & well wishes, maybe they’re scrooges & don’t see the economic prudence in buying cards & stamps… Some folks are probably just not very organized… Other folks are probably just too busy, (every year? Right!) Maybe they think the ‘tradition’ of sending greeting cards is a government & big business plot to improve seasonal profit levels for Hallmark, American Greetings, & the U.S. Postal Service (only a quasi-government agency you know!) I am betting these same folks don’t understand how to truly ‘play it forward’ or Network.
We send cards to professionals, too; such as our doctors, lawyers & teachers. Maybe it’s not in their business ethics / practices to send out cards. “You know how many patients, clients & students we have! Do you have any idea what that would cost?” They don’t want to offend anyone of another faith. It’s too risky in this day & age to offer a prosperous New Year’s wish to folks. They might get sued! (Kudos to my chiropractor, Darius Veleas! Thanks for the card again this year!)
What about those people who won’t send out a card unless they get one first? You don’t actually think people do that, do you?… It must just be one of my conspiracy theories! Hey at least they send out cards… They’re just a little more frugal…. You know. It’s like…“We wish you a Merry Christmas, If you wish us one first!”… I bet they keep a tally too, much more sophisticated than mine. I’m thinking their understanding of Networking is… “I’m here for you, but you have to help me first.” I regrettably know a bunch of these folks. I think I was this kind of schmuck about 18 months ago. Sounds an awful lot like a Recruiter or Headhunter doesn’t it!
Speaking of tallies… I did a quick statistical analysis & the bottom line was… My side of the family, is not very diligent when it comes to sending out cards, (at least to yours truly), while almost all my wife’s relatives sends us cards. I have to wonder what could it be? I know her relatives live closer, in state, where as all my relatives are entirely out of state…(But I thought stamps cost the same all over?!) This year however, one of Diana’s relatives made us pay the postage – No lie! I’m Irish, She’s Greek, and (I better not even go there…)
It’s funny when I go to a relative or friend’s home & see cards or pictures of families that we always send cards to, but never get one back!? (Maybe they don’t have our address? Maybe they really don’t like me or my family! Maybe they have a ‘Greeting Card budget’ that they fervently stick to & we simply never make the cut? Maybe these folks only send greetings to their direct families, aunts & uncles. You know the people they see all the time. But cousins & ‘secondary’ friends are just out of luck. What kind of Networkers are these people. It’s tough to break into that inner circle. These folks could be in a special office, corporate team, or country club friends, maybe alumni from a certain University. They don’t go out of their way to help others unless you are part of the club.
What would “Dear Abby” say? I guess, I’ll never get that answer… But I’ll tell you what my wife says: She thought this was a riot as we lay in bed talking about all this… but she got pretty nervous when I actually decided to ‘go public’ with these questions. I broached the questions to some of my friends & relatives… They thought it was funny too. (I think some of my theories have merit!) But hey, I mean, I’m sending these to my family, relatives, friends & co-workers…All folks I know & care about. These are folks that I genuinely do wish a Happy Holiday season to. Regardless of what they may think. Honestly, I’m not trying to be too cynical.
Okay, so now the paranoia sets in… It’s okay to think those things; but never put a person on the spot! Talk about a Networking quandary! I need their support or a connection, but I’m embarrassed to ask & this is where the rubber meets the road. Are they true Networkers / Friends that are there to help you?
This is not a survey! Don’t feel compelled or guilt into sending a letter or response back… I’m not trying to shame anyone into supporting Hallmark & the Postal Service during the Holidays either… Even though, 9 years in Catholic School combined with an Irish catholic mother, (God rest her Soul.) bode well for guilt trips!
So, I’m sure you’re wondering… (At least the 50-60 folks that got this letter & a few thousand reading this blog have not sent us a card in return) Are we finally off Chris & Diana’s Holiday mailing list?… HA! You wish it was that easy! You gotta beg to get off that list & that would require effort on your part to contact me in one way, shape or form… (Oh God, I am devious!) I will continue to Network & Play it forward, wishing you well, seeing how I can help you… & hopefully the benefit & support will be returned 1x, 5x, 10x in the future!
You other 60 folks that do send us holiday greetings, (even if it’s after the fact in some cases), you must be wondering… He isn’t talking about me, is he? (You might just have catholic guilt too!)… Maybe you can commiserate with me on this? Please don’t misunderstand me, I mean; I’m not losing sleep over this… are you?
I am not going to eliminate any one from our Holiday list, or delete you from my Linked In connections, but I do plan to eliminate some of the excuses you folks might be hiding behind… by providing our phone number, E-mail address.
Yes, it is the thought that counts… but the Cards & calls are nice too! My Mom, Dad, and Sister Ann Patrice from 2nd grade, oh so long ago taught me…. Yes, “it is better to give than receive”…But I think that goes for grief, too you know!
I hope this letter finds you all in good health & prepared to take on the challenges of this New Year!
“Tis the season”, (12 months of the year when it comes to Networking)… I often have to remind myself!
I wish you all the best, from my family to yours! Enjoy the Holidays & keep Proper Perspective! Finally, how can I help you!
“Your Trusted alternative to a Full time CFO”
Mission Viejo, CA