Not long ago when I was speaking at a Chamber event, one of the audience members asked me about the best way to communicate. She was interested in particular in the difference between electronic and handwritten media. I told her then — and I still believe — that a handwritten note is more meaningful than an email. There’s just something special about putting pen to paper that I think conveys a deeper emotional connection than any electronic medium.

Well, I was wrong.

Well, actually, I wasn’t so much wrong as I was answering the wrong question. For me, a handwritten note is most meaningful. That may not be true for everyone. As with most things in networking, it’s not what we prefer that’s most important. It’s the preferences of those with whom we are trying to connect that we need to consider.

Do they prefer electronic or handwritten messages? Would they rather have a phone call? Which number should you use, cell, work, or even home number? If you do call, what time of day is best? How often do they like to have contact? When you get together in person, would they like to meet for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, or a leisurely drink after work?

The more you can meet your contact’s needs and preferences, the more they are going to see you as being respectful of them and their time, and the stronger a connection you’ll be able to make. Since stronger connections are what make the most profitable networks, in as much as possible, make the extra effort to focus on them first.

Photo credit: Stephanie Hofschlaeger