Staying in touch can be difficult. Sometimes we want to reach out those we rarely speak to but care deeply about beyond typical holidays like Christmas and birthdays. But how do you do that without appearing a little cheesy? Random? Weird? Or at worst, sounding like you want to get something out of them when you really just wanted to say hi and let them know you’re thinking of them?


Send something useful.

This could be an interesting article, a unique object, a cool event, a fun fact, or a picture that you know the receiver will appreciate.

Why This Works:

Utility. A look at anyone’s everyday life will present a universal pattern. We all want to be happy, but it’s not that simple. Sending along a useful tidbit of anything that helps them ease pain, solve problems and live better is always greatly appreciated.

Clarity. When you reach out to someone you don’t normally keep in touch with, they’ll be met with a bunch of questions: Why are you calling me? Why now? What do you want? It’s confusing. People don’t like that. Avoid the uncertainty and get straight to your point. Thought you’d find this interesting + thinking of you + P.S. don’t forget me!

Appreciation. Sending an item you know they like is an indirect way of saying I like you just the way you are. This will make you stand out in a world where we’re constantly made to feel less of ourselves due to the things we lack or the way we look. By sending something that aligns with their interests, you encourage them to continue being who they are and to keep kicking ass. Who wouldn’t want that?

Special. We’re individuals of self-interest. We’re constantly asking ourselves, “What’s in it for me?” And if we can’t find an immediate answer, we’d rather focus our attention on something else. Sure, you’re the one who wants to reach out to your loved ones, but don’t make it about you, make it about them. When you shine the spotlight on others, the spotlight shines back at you.

I read a lot, I also love checking out local events and exploring the city. Whenever I come across something that makes me think of someone, I send it to them immediately. No expectations. No second thoughts. It’s become a habit of mine and it’s a nice and easy way of keeping in touch.

A few examples:

  • My brother loves video games, so I sent him this website with all the original Nintendo games
  • My friend Zach loves cycling, so I sent him this cool video of an invisible helmet
  • My boss Laurent was trying to come up with a name for his new company, so I sent him this naming book

Recently, I created a monthly newsletter I send out to my friends just to tell them what I’ve been up to and to share a few things I think they’d find interesting. You’re welcome to join the newsletter at the sidebar on the right.

Next time you reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to for a long time, take an extra second to come up with a little extra something you know they’d appreciate. When you do so, you position yourself as someone who adds value, and you’ll be delighted to find that your kindness will encourage others to keep in touch with you as well.

In short, give and expect nothing in return.

by Jason Lam

Originally published at www.jlam.com on April 13, 2016.