When you wake up to this, you know it’s going to be a
good birthday!

“Just think of it as being half way to ninety!”

This is what my dear friend, Angela Kujava, told me to cheer me up on the occasion of my forty-fifth birthday a couple of weeks ago. It still gives me a chuckle.

In addition to all of the other festivities — I had three separate celebrations — I received cards in the mail, phone calls from friends and family, and several dozen well-wishes from my Facebook friends.

Let’s talk about that last group for a few minutes.

Facebook is a wonderful tool for networking. It’s not a replacement for your face-to-face efforts, but it does afford a certain ability to maintain a light touch with the people you know — if used properly. One of the features that makes it particularly handy is it gives you reminders of whoever is having a birthday today. Not only a reminder, it even provides an easy link to post a birthday message.

Here are a couple of things you can do with this facility that will make it an even more powerful networking tool.

  1. Use it. It takes about three seconds to click on the link and type in your message. Even assuming you have over a thousand FB friends, you still, on average, have only three or four birthdays on any given day.
  2. Show interest. Spend an extra second or two in order to make this the beginning of a conversation. “Happy birthday, Bob! Are you and Laura planning anything fun to celebrate?” Just by adding in that extra query, you can spark an interaction with that other person. Facebook is at its strongest as a networking tool when you can use the comments area to carry on a conversation.
  3. Personalize the message. We sometimes have people amongst our FB friends who we might not have seen in person in a while. Make sure that they know that you know who they are. “Happy Birthday, Matt! It seems like forever since we were in Black Belt Camp together.”
  4. Make it an excuse. Not an excuse to forgive past behavior, but an excuse to propose future behavior. “Happy Birthday, Nick! It’s been too long since we’ve had coffee. Do you have any availability in the next couple of weeks for us to get together?”
  5. Respond. This is for the person receiving these well-wishes. Respond to each birthday wish — preferably as it comes in. Yes, you could just do a blanket “thank you” post (heck, you can still do that also), but it only takes a moment to say thank you to a specific person and they are far more likely to see it and feel appreciated if you respond to them individually. You can even apply some of the same techniques in 1 through 4 above to make the response more powerful.
Birthday wishes can be the most powerful networking messages you send. Giving someone a call or dropping them an email might very well make their day. You can even use Facebook to let them know that they are loved and remembered.

So, take a moment right now to start building those strong relationships with a simple “Happy Birthday!”