This fall, I'm celebrating my 20-year college reunion. I love any kind of reunion. They're great opportunities to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones with whom you share some common history. Gatherings like these allow you to rejuvenate, relax and remember people, places and things you enjoyed in the past and can still relate to today.
School reunions typically only happen every five years, but I belong to a professional organization that has a retreat for its members every year. We get together in an interesting locale to discuss trends and hot topics and spend quality time together. Whether it's with your family, friends, colleagues or company, it's important to schedule a break from your regular routine to talk and hang out the old fashioned way.
Several of the boards on which I serve have started inviting the emeriti board members back for one meeting every year. It's a wonderful tradition that creates a strong tie between past and future. It also energizes the alumni to stay connected and involved with the organization. You can never have enough eyes and ears out there, so find ways to keep your friends and associates engaged and involved with your organization. It's a shame to lose their ideas and energy.
The logistics of planning a major get-together can be overwhelming, so find simple ways to stay connected to the groups you already belong to. And if the simple joy of staying in touch isn't enough for you, remember people like doing business with others they know and trust. Here are a few ways to stay connected:
- If your time or budget doesn't allow you to get away for a few days in a remote location, plan a half-day retreat. Make part of it rich with content, but make sure to also leave time open for discussion.
- If it's too hard to block out a large chunk of time, plan a series of long lunches or meetings where you'll tackle only one thing on the agenda. Over time, you can cover a lot of territory.
- Use technology to stay connected between meetings. You can use e-newsletters, conference calls, podcasts and e-mail to keep the conversation going without losing any momentum along the way.
- Create an inclusive environment and get others involved. When interesting, motivated people get together, magic starts to happen. Your team's energy will multiply and their ideas will start feeding off one another, pushing ideas to even higher levels.
So the next time you get that e-mail or invitation asking you to sign up for a reunion, don't toss it out or forget to respond. Chances are, you'll reconnect with someone you're genuinely happy to see and you'll be glad you went. As Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."