When you meet with a person in your network (over lunch, for example), and you share your backgrounds and the current focus of your work with each other, then both of you enjoy a 100% mindshare.
If someone tells your lunch partner tomorrow that he needs a service you provide, you still will be clear and present in his or her mind. If he trusts you and enjoyed the conversation, chances are you’ll hear about this opportunity. But what happens if you get caught up in your day-to-day life and you do not interact with this person for over eight weeks, and he gets approached with the same type of inquiry? Chances are that he, at this point, will not connect you with the opportunity presented unless you have a very strong and deep relationship with him or her.
Let’s take this a little further, and say it’s now been three months since you interacted (we all know how fast three months can fly by). Given the timeframe, it will be very unlikely that you will come to this person’s mind as a possible referral. He has possibly had interactions with professionals similar to you since then, and he might send the opportunity their way. Why? Because your mindshare in this person’s mind is too low to be able to make that connection. The mindshare has decayed to a point where he or she is not able to make the connection with you, and you have lost a perfectly fine opportunity to generate new business.
Why Does the Mindshare Decay?
It’s a simple fact of how our minds work. Scientists have been studying this phenomenon since the 1800s on the related subject matter of learning. It started with Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German scientist who discovered that the mind was governed by law-like regularities. He was the first to define the concept of a learning curve. Ebbinghaus discovered that by correctly distributing learning sessions, a human could dramatically improve the results from learning. However, if not repeated, the accessibility of the learned material would slowly decay to the point where it felt as if it had been forgotten. (See this interesting Wired article for more on this subject.)
What can one do to improve the overall mindshare?: The answer is quite simple: Be mindful about how you manage your interactions within your network and make sure that they occur regularly. Always carry a value payload and focus on those individuals that matter most to you. This common sense answer is all there is!
Of course, it gets a lot more challenging once you go into the nuts and bolts of this concept, but by just coming to this realization, you have made a huge leap forward. In practical terms, spacing the interactions in a planned and mindful way means using different channels and formats to send messages high in value payload to the people in your network. As shown in the figure below, these interactions can be regular follow-ups to meetings, introductions made, paying attention to status updates on social network and media platforms, and many other types of interactions.
The key point is that if at any point an opportunity arises, the mindshare is high enough with key people in your network to allow the desired connections to be made.