Take Me Out Of The Ballgame

I suppose my friend Hal is really the one to blame.

It was Hal, who organized the softball game this past Sunday between some men from my town and some men from neighboring Ashland, MA. It was Hal, who invited me to play, way back in early May, as we sat together watching our sons play lacrosse. And it was Hal, who raised no objection when I offered to play second base.

And that’s why, I blame Hal, for the way I felt the next morning, as I struggled to lift my sore and decrepit body out of bed.

Indeed – and despite the fact that softball involves a good deal less physical activity than other sports… making breakfast, for example – those of you who play know that when it comes to causing next day discomfort, softball is king.

The reason, of course, is that softball is all about stopping and starting: You stand still, and then you run as fast as you can to the next base. You stand still, and then you throw the ball as hard as you can to another player. You stand still, and then you swing a 28 ounce bat (that’s 90 Imperial firkins, for those of you on the metric system) with all the middle-aged might you can muster.

And then, as if that weren’t enough, you sit down on the bench every half inning, each time lulling your over-the-hill body into the mistaken belief that we’re all done for the day.

When it comes to relationship marketing (of which, your E-Newsletter is a tool), you’ll also find that excessive starting and stopping can be painful.

Here’s what I mean…

The great thing about relationship marketing, is that once you get going (and provided you keep doing it), it doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. You publish your newsletter month after month; you stay involved with your professional organization on a regular basis; you e-mail and phone your contact list in a systematic way; etc.

However you decide to “work your relationships,” as long as you keep doing it consistently, the leads will start (and continue) to come in, and the effort required will be small.

Stop for a while, however, and like an out-of-shape softball player, chasing the next ball is going to hurt. The interpersonal connections get stale; the level of trust starts to fade; and before long, the relationships that you worked so hard to build have evaporated, moving you back into the anonymous “guy with a tie, briefcase and handful of business cards” pack with everybody else.

Bottom Line: One of the (many) things I love about relationship marketing is that it gets more and more efficient over time. The longer you know people and the more frequently you stay in touch, the more likely they are to hire you or refer you. It’s a virtuous circle if ever there were one.

But it requires your ongoing participation. So choose one way of staying in touch with your network of contacts that you believe you can keep doing – over and over again until approximately the end of time. Get that done, and the leads will take care of themselves.

(By the way, if you know of anyone in the 495/Mass Pike area of Boston in need of a mediocre second baseman for a summer, vaguely competitive, softball league, please let me know. Pain and suffering aside, it was the most fun I’ve had in a while!)

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