Happy Birthday!

No, it’s not my birthday. Nor is the birthday of this blog or of my company (though it might be your birthday and, if so, “Happy Birthday!”).

“Happy Birthday” is the subject of my favorite networking calls.

Personally, I think everyone, no matter the age, deserves recognition on their birthday. I know that I often celebrate mine for weeks on end — usually starting in mid August and going on until early September. I strongly suspect that inside each of us is a seven-year-old who still wants the cake and the presents and the friends and family all around. Oh, we’ve learned to hide them — the disappointments of life serving to crush their child-like joy — but they still want their day to be special.

You can bring someone a lot of joy by just giving that 7-year-old a little bit of fun on their day.

But how can you get their birthday? Personally, I use another old Jedi mind trick…

I ask.

Oh, I ask in a fun way, but I still ask. Usually when I’ve called just to chat, I tell them that I have a question that I’m required to ask of them for business purposes and I hope they don’t mind. Or I might say that I have a somewhat personal question to ask, if they don’t mind. Whatever it is, I go with some sort of preparatory remark that has them thinking about what serious question I’m about to ask.  Then when I say “When is your birthday?” they’ll laugh and usually have no trouble giving up the information.

If they want to know why, I just tell the truth — that I like to wish people a happy birthday and I can’t if I don’t know the day.

Of course, there are other ways. A lot of people list their date of birth in Facebook or one of the other social media sites. You can harvest a number of them through there. I wouldn’t go for hiring a private investigator. That would be creepy.

When you do have that information, be sure to add it into your tickler file. I also add them to my Google calendar so that it comes up every year automatically.

Then you just have to call on the right day. Please note that I said “call”. Sending an email, or a Facebook “wall message”, or even a handwritten card isn’t as personal as them actually hearing your voice. Trust me. It will only take a few moments and you may very well make their day.

Maybe almost as much as that new bike they got when they were 7.

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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