Four steps to nurturing long distance friendships!

Friendship Road

Have you wondered where some of your friends or acquaintances have gone? It happens. Our lives are one very large collection of personal and professional intersections.  Sometimes the path we are on takes us away from those friends that we love.

Here are a few techniques that you might use to reconnect intentionally.  I travel quite a bit in  both my professional and personal life. Some of these techniques I have learned through frequent travel.  Ultimately, they make me happy so I would like to share them with you, dear reader.

  1. Keep a great address book
  2. Plan side trips
  3. An in person visit will buoy a long distance friendship
  4. Social media

Let’s get started!

  1. Keep a great address book

In both my professional and personal life I, like many people, rely on my calendar, address book, and email applications to keep my commitments.  Here are a few things that I like to include when creating or updating a contact in my address book.  I’ve chosen an address book that allows me to add a picture of my friend, a birthday field, and a notes field.

I always ensure that I populate at least the state in which my contact lives, even if I don’t know their entire address.  Adding a picture is simply aesthetic and feels more personal to me.  The notes field is great because it allows me to use keywords to identify my friends.  For example, if my friend loves yoga – like I do – I’ll note that.  Later, I can use the search field for birthdays in the coming month (or see them on my integrated calendar) so I can reach out to my friend with a meaningful birthday wish (e.g. something more than “happy birthday” on social media). If I am planning on attending a yoga conference I might search for like-minded people in that state.

Ideally the address book, and calendar especially, should seamlessly sync to your smartphone.  While we are globetrotting it is important to also be nimble.  Some of my friends know me as the “king of last minute planning”.  This is because I am always on-the-go, and love it! Having my address book and calendar at my fingertips is a requirement.  I am nimble, not in spite of my address book and calendar, but rather because of them.

  1. Plan side trips

If you are planning a work trip, family vacation, or even a solitary adventure perhaps you can spare a few hours for coffee with an old friend.  Or a walk & talk. Or wine & tapas.  When I am planning a visit to a city if someone doesn’t come immediately to mind I might search my address book for notes or the state to which I am traveling.  I like to use airport codes in my notes field which makes it very easy to find friends who are near some of the cities that I travel to.

The key with most of this is first taking ownership over nurturing the friendship. I don’t mean this as a possessive or aggressive positioning about our friends.  What I mean is that it is OK for you to take initiative in staying in contact.  In other words, always start with intention.  Ask yourself:

Q: “What’s my intention?”

A: “I would like to keep this great friendship alive and well!”

With that intention your actions will take care of themselves, won’t they? A short visit with your friend should not take significantly away from your work, family relationships or commitments.

  1. An in-person visit will buoy a long distance friendship

Making time for your friend goes a long way! Recently I was traveling for work near my hometown. When an old high school friend who I remembered fondly replied to a note that I posted on social media mentioning that I would be in town.  While leaving town and traveling toward my work city for the week we communicated and realized that I would be driving right by her town.  I stopped and chatted with her and her husband for about two hours.  It was a great time and I was very happy that I was able to reconnect with such great people.

Even in that short amount of time I feel like the friendship has received a breath of new life.

  1. Social media

Social media is a interesting phenomenon.  There are many great sites out there.  I use several of them to connect, and stay connected, to my friends and loved ones.  I mention that it is an interesting phenomenon because it can help to nurture or be a detriment to a friendship.

If you are using social media you can create groups for your various groups of friends.  I have group chats with certain friends maybe once a week that might last all of five minutes.  This allows us to stay connected and have just a glimpse into what is going on in each other’s lives.   With an occasional in person visit, or even a FaceTime or Skype call, our friendships are alive, well, and thriving!

Perhaps you are not “friends” with an old friend on a social media site, like Facebook.  You could review the settings that show the audience and post to Friends of Friends as a way to reach people you have lost touch with.

To avoid social media being a detriment in any of your relationships simply practice being in the moment.  If you are meeting with a friend or loved one put your phone away.  If your phone is out turn it face down.  Part of friendship is respecting one another.

Reconnecting with your friends is not as difficult as it might seem.  You simply must make a choice to (re)connect. Starting with intention and seeking to nurture friendships is a great start.

1 Comment

  1. Awesome! Let’s plan more group side trips… maybe to Puerto Rico?? 🙂 But Danville will go great too.

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