The original title of this post was, "The Reason We Didn't Meetup When I Visited Your City" and it was geared towards explaining what it's like to be busy with lots of correspondence. The post grew past this. This one will be useful for people who expect that they might have huge correspondence increases in the future - rarely do people talk bluntly about what it's like. It'll also be useful for the expansive sort of person who reaches out to people they don't know, so you can understand the mindset of who you're reaching out to. It rambles a little bit in the middle, but I think the mindsets and details could be useful for you.
The Reason We Didn't Meetup When I Visited Your City...
...is because I'm disorganized and you didn't drop a line again.
So, I get a lot of correspondence. Which is great. I really dig that. A couple days ago, I had a great Skype chat about international investing and business expansion with a really smart and cool guy out in SF, and then I met three people locally in Tokyo who are all exceptionally cool guys. I learned a lot, and I think so did the guys I got to hang with, and it was good. I like seeing other people thrive and make money, and got to have some good talks on business and entrepreneurship with everyone I met - I think everyone can hustle a bit more cash here or there.
I really enjoy that. I like meeting smart and enterprising people. I say that everyone - on my site, in posts, on my "About" and "New? Start here" pages,
But I'm really at the edge of my capability of managing it all. Volumes of questions, emails, offers to work together, ongoing projects, potential projects - they're at an all-time high. Actually, I'm handling it quite well, but I'd have been drowning even six months ago. All those organizational/time/efficiency skills have been necessary.
So I'm keeping my head above water on the essentials - everything that I've got duties and obligations on is getting done.
But I'm still disorganized on a lot of the stuff I'd like to do that isn't mandatory.
Someday, I'll build a custom CRM-like relational database to track everyone I know in my life. It'll pay attention to recent correspondences, interests, goals, work we've done together, places we've met up, your interests, our mutual interests, etc.
I'll be able to look up books I've recommended for you or bought you, and books you've recommendd to me or bought me. After I read a book a year after having had it recommended to me, I'll be able to do one search and thank everyone who recommended it to me.
One field in the database will be location. So when I go to, for example, Manila, I know to drop you a line if you're in Manila.
Because I get a ton of emails like that. "Hey Sebastian, great blog, thank you for X it's been helpful for me, I have a question if you don't mind, here's a book recommendation you might like - and, I'm in Manila so drop me a line if you're here and we'll link up."
Here's how I reply to those emails more or less every time - "Hey, thanks and glad X is working for you, I love hearing that. That's a good question, my thoughts are __________________________ (some of these become blog posts later, many don't if they're not generally applicable). Interesting book recommendation - okay, I'll add it to my to-read list, but my list is quite long right now so I don't know when it'll happen. Thanks for the invite to Manila - I'll be in Tokyo and Chiba the next few weeks, then Hong Kong or Beijing, and I *might* be in the Philippines sometime quickly in the next 2-3 months, but I'm not sure. I want to go, but I'm not sure where I'll squeeze in. But yeah, I'd love to link up if we're in the same place. Regards, Sebastian"
But then? I wind up going to wherever, and I don't drop whoever it is a line.
I'm disorganized. Well, no. I'm organized okay. But I haven't built systems to handle all the people I know. I've had at least a few hundred people reach out to me over the last year, and I have *ongoing* correspondences with at least 100 people.
I went through my correspondences file last night, and I was shocked - there's a guy in there I massively respect, we've chatted three times on Skype, swapped a bunch of emails, and I think he's brilliant and we'd probably be great friends and colleagues if we linked up somewhere and got to know each other better.
But I'd forgotten he existed entirely.
Don't take that the wrong way. Please don't. It's not callousness - I was kind of shocked when I realized it. Basically, he's not someone I think about, at all, ever, unless I happen to search my email for a topic and see one of the threads we had, or if he writes to me.
Why? Because I haven't adjusted to the amounts of correspondence and opportunity in my life. And I think it's only going to get worse, and I don't have a lot of faith in my memory getting better.
So yeah, eventually I'll get some CRM-like relational database thing going on (I tried to make a custom one with Filemaker Pro, but I couldn't figure out how to make it do what I wanted after 10 hours of screwing with it, and moved on to other more pressing things).
I'm rambling a little bit, but there's two important points here:
First, for the kind of person who is eventually going to do things in public and encourage correspondence, be aware that this is going to happen and plan for it. Get some technological solution working sooner than later and you'll thank yourself. (And get good email habits - you'll drown if you don't have them, so work at touching email once, clearing the inbox regularly, etc)
Second, and this is the important point - I think a lot of people are afraid or shy to repeatedly reach out to someone. Fear of rejection? Fear of failure? Fear of success?
I don't know.
Maybe you said "Let's link up if you're ever in Hong Kong," I swung through HK, and I didn't drop you a line.
Do I hate you?
Do I think you're a loser?
Have you been rejected?
Should you cry?
I'm just a little disorganized. I haven't adapted yet. In fact, I'm going to hazard a guess that most people who started getting letters and correspondences are this way.
For new people who come into my life, I don't necessarily wind up meeting the people I respect the most, like the most, admire the most, or think I'd get along with the most. I wind up meeting the people who are most persistent and timely.
So, don't be shy. I don't hate you. I don't really hate anyone, actually, probably 99% of the correspondence I get is really thought-provoking and interesting and enjoyable. But many of those correspondences die out, even though I'd *really* like to meet some of the brilliant and cool and enterprising people I've connected with through here or elsewhere.
On my end? I'm still a little too disorganized to handle the increased volume. Eventually I'll crack that nut, probably sometime in the next year, two years at most.
In the meantime, don't be shy - with me or anyone else you'd correspond with. The persistent and timely will inherit the Earth.
-I wonder if you're hitting the 150 limit! But it's good that you're trying to pass it.
-Persistence is better than a missed opportunity. I learned the lesson the hard way but it's so important.
-Ex: I remember one of my bestest friends. We talked terribly on the first day. Tons of boring small talk, I thought she was too immature, etc. But as time went on, after a few conversations of rapport and trust-building, she became a great friend. Now a year later, she's right up there as one of the people I talk to all the time.
Check this out http://itsme.it/project/ . It is designed for people with your problem but hasnt't reached a final release.
And this was the specific post I was remembering from Chris B about scaling connections: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/beating-dunbars-number/
Hi Sebastian, two things. First, I'm in Manila :) So add me to your database of cool people in the Philippines :) Second, check Chris Brogan's stream. I'm quite certain that he has written about the challenges of and tactics for maintaining personal relationships with a very large number of connections. For instance, try this search: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/?s=large+number+contacts.
Which is the best methods for dealing with people that correspondences aren't as much interesting as many with other people, and that you don't feel there is a fit, but they are really nice and want to connect with you ?
I think that Sebastian is needing a way to keep track of correspondences with people and their location , along with a way to check how far different contacts are from his current location (or planned route.) I think that it would be somewhat of a waste of effort to memorize all of this information -- since you would likely review it anyways before meeting with someone, I think that using Anki to memorize in this case is more effort than its worth.
Thanks for this Sebastian. I have an email chain between the two of us where I dropped the ball. After some time, I realized I am a shit corresponder. And I should care more. I mean, I enjoyed our banter. But then you post this and it makes me feel better about it all. I am confident our paths will cross one day and you'll think me a right enough person. So you won't hate me for dropping the ball, right?
Thanks for a great post!
Have you thought about using Anki or Spaced Reptition Software to learn the people you'd like to know?
I suspect that if you pinged people, in some way, who you were recalling, that might be enough to keep the thread of relationship open.
I know great salespeople have techniques for this, because relationships are critical, and it's hard to keep a clear image of someone's current state in life without some signal to hang it on.
All the best!
I've set "clear email out" as a daily to-do objective every day for the last week, but haven't been able to do it. I'll spend a few hours answering and cutting down, and get even more while I'm doing it. The last few days, I've spent a lot of time with it and still wound up with more at the end of the day than when I started.
Some points to note:
1. I apologize if I miss something time sensitive. If it's short term important, please mark "URGENT" in the subject line. Normally you don't need to do that with me and I answer most of my email quickly, but I'm swamped. Mark urgent and don't feel bad about doing so if it's short term expiring.
2. If I haven't replied, it's not because I hate you.
3. If I'm terse, it also doesn't mean I hate you.
Okay, I've almost got all my email inboxes almost empty now.
I get a ton of mail. I hired an assistant and automated some of it, and I still get a ton of mail. More than I can answer normally.
I'm gradually building more systems, both technology, decisionmaking, and people to process all of this, because I have opportunities worth a lot of cash, a lot of cool stuff, and a lot of ability to connect with interesting people sitting in my inbox. At any given time, there's probably 3-4 very interesting things buried in the dozens of mails I get.
And I also get a kick out of helping people. I like getting and answering questions when I can.
But then I realized, one particular type of questioning makes me cringe, and I dont want to write back to people that write like that.