Shortly after sending my last blog post, I noticed that a long-time friend and business acquaintance had unsubscribed from my list mailing list. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. I thought he would find the content of interest, and be open to hearing from me every once in a while. So, I decided to send him an email and ask why he opted out. He quickly responded, telling me that he didn’t find the content relevant and that if I wanted to stay in touch that I should reach out with a personal email or phone call as opposed to including him on a bulk communication. I was a bit frustrated with his response but quickly let it go and invited him to grab a drink. Bygones.
The very next day, with his response still on my mind, I began receiving a bunch of texts through my LinkedIn account. Each one had the same exact note, “Congrats on the anniversary! Hope you’re doing well.” Unbeknownst to me, I was celebrating eight years of running our non-profit, Small Army for a Cause (and Be Bold Be Bald). I’m still not exactly sure when it all officially began, but at some point I must have entered the January 2008 date on LinkedIn.
As these notifications started coming in, it became very apparent how much technology can de-personalize communications. While, at some level, I appreciated the congratulatiory notes from people, I also know that they simply clicked one button on LinkedIn to send me the pre-written default note on my work anniversary. It’s not much different than the hundreds of “Happy birthday!” posts you get on your Facebook page once a year. As Hallmark says, if you really care, send a card. You can also pick up the phone to call, send a personal text or just write something a bit more personal in the comment line.
Technology connects us more than ever before, but it cannot replace real personal communications. Social media and group email communications are definitely a powerful and relevant tool for staying in touch with people – especially when you are providing content that is relevant and interesting to the recipients. (So, I am going to continue sending these emails.) However, it is nice to get a reminder that we cannot depend on those communications alone to build real personal relationships.