How to stay in touch without stalking

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesHave you ever been in this situation? You meet someone new, have an instant rapport and a feeling that the two of you would be able to help each other. You know you want to stay in touch or at least stay on the other person's radar. But you have no idea when you'll run into the person again and don't want to rely on chance.

This issue comes up all the time. It happens when you want to keep up with people who might be helpful in a job search or when you want to let prior clients know that you're around and available for work.

So how do you stay in touch without looking like a stalker or someone who is just lurking around waiting for something to happen?

Here are a few ideas:

Write a newsletter. This idea works for anyone who wants to reach out to their contacts on a regular or irregular basis without picking up the phone. I send an email newsletter to my mailing list roughly four times a year. And each time I do, I get several inquiries and bookings within a few days of sending it out. I also get a lot of hellos from people I'm happy to hear from. The key to writing a good newsletter is to give your readers something useful rather than using it solely as a self-promotion vehicle. The "Casnocha Beat," a periodic newsletter sent by Ben Casnocha, a blogger/author/speaker, always leaves me with something juicy to think about. He includes an "estimated read time" at the top, a clever way to convince you it's only a small investment to read it. Colleen Wainwright, a communications consultant who goes by the name "Communicatrix," sends a newsletter that does a good job of reminding people of her services while giving volumes of helpful stuff. (It's no surprise that she wrote an excellent post on how to write a bulletproof newsletter.)

Embrace status updates. While it's easy to mock the growing need for everyone to constantly remind us whenever they hiccup, the status update can be an effective tool for staying on people's radar, if used properly. If you have an event coming up, write a status update on Facebook or Twitter saying that you're prepping for it. Use these updates as a way to give to others. So if you've just read a good article, post it on your Facebook profile.

Send clippings.
Clippings are the pre-virtual age way of sharing articles. It's when you rip out an article from a newspaper and magazine and pop it into an envelope with a "thinking about you," note. Now that most mail arrives electronically, you'll stand out by sending something that gets delivered by real mail. This isn't limited to articles. Think about sending your newsletter by regular mail, and consider using regular mail for thank-you notes. Not enough people do.

Create a recurring event. If you want to be known for something, say an interest in the latest art openings or locally grown organic foods, create a recurring event that you can invite people to. It needn't be expensive. Partner with a vendor that wants exposure or use your own space. This can be as Web 2.0 or as home-grown as you like: announce it on Facebook, Twitter, or by posting fliers in your neighborhood.

Remember birthdays. This is a classic technique used by salespeople. Start keeping track of people's birthday's, and make a point of calling, writing, or sending an e-greeting on their day. Facebook has made this simple by reminding us of our friends' birthdays. Sites like do the same thing by sending you email reminders after you've input the birthdays of your contacts. Sending holiday greetings serves the same purpose, but the birthday method lets you focus more on someone's individual special day rather than a general day you reach out to everyone. If you want to reach out at the holidays, think about a holiday where you'll stand out; Gretchen Rubin, the author and blogger, sends cards on Valentine's Day for this reason.

Update your LinkedIn profile. Here's one way you might not even realize you're showing up on people's radar. If you're a member of LinkedIn and you change jobs, take a new job or do any number of other things on the site, your "news" will be included in the weekly newsletter other LinkedIn members in your network receive.

Have I left out any other techniques? Tell me how you stay in touch, or ways that others do that you find appealing?