Not many of us use actual rolodexes any more. Most of us went digital several years ago. All those contacts who used to be represented by paper cards now have their home in our e-mail and on our cell phones.
I think we may have lost something in the transition. I’m not anti-technology. It just that when a contact is just a name on a screen it becomes harder to appreciate the value of that relationship.
There’s something about being able to hold a contact card in your hand that makes it easier to assign it worth. It’s easier to think through the investments you’ve made in that particular relationship and what’s come back to you in turn.
Sometimes that value is monetary- “This contact represents a $10m sale.”
Sometimes it’s a relationship that’s simply important to you on a personal or professional level. Maybe it’s someone you learned from or someone who helped you. Maybe it’s someone you helped.
I’m not saying we should actually go back to using physical rolodexes. They’re clunky, don’t travel well, and it’s much faster to find something when you can just type a name into a search field.
But I think it’s important to remember that each contact we make is valuable. Some are more valuable than others but each and every contact you make has some sort of worth.
Sometimes it’s hard to think the same way when you’re scrolling through a list on your phone.
The rolodex metaphor is also a helpful tool for setting goals. What if you look over at your rolodex and it’s not as full or as valuable as you’d like it to be? Being able to envision your contacts as a physical object makes the number and worth of those contacts a little more impactful.
If you want your contacts to be worth more, it’s up to you to do something about it. If you’re spread too thin, you might have to make some hard decisions about which relationships you focus on and put your development efforts into.
Chances are, you’ll find yourself wanting to spend more of your time focusing on a smaller set of high-value relationships. That means taking a step back and focusing on finding the right people to invest in.