Has anyone else noticed a significant increase in the number of sales messages that are showing up via email and LinkedIn since the beginning of the year? This is on top of the frequent phone calls I get trying to sell me an extended car warranty or urging me to verify a fake purchase on my account. Frankly, it makes me want to roll up my desk and quit writing this. I do not want to be lumped in with that ugly mess of false relationship-building. No, you don’t know me. You don’t know what I need most. You have never asked.

I recently asked one network member how he approaches new relationships. He told me he often says, “We don’t know each other yet, but we have a lot in common.” There is something about this statement that appeals to me. It feels more honest about the current state of the relationship – there is nothing there yet. And it promises the possibility of discovering what we do have in common, which makes me curious about what that might be.

And over two years of being unable to get to know each other in person, Zoom was a stabilizing force in our lives,” according to another network member. Really? When I celebrate the days I don’t have to “do my eyebrows” to look good on another Zoom call? Yes, really. As tiring as the medium sometimes is, it became the thing we all have in common, the love/hate relationship that we can count on. And it offers a view into each other’s lives that we have never had before. There is something very human about listening to a client’s middle schooler practice the tuba while we are conducting a meeting. I hope we can hold onto that part of Zoom as we go back to more in-person meetings.

“Practical, middle-class marketing.” That is how another network member described her practice to me recently. I immediately knew what she meant. Practical, meaning it isn’t too expensive, it isn’t too difficult to implement, and it isn’t arrogant. Middle-class, meaning it is more Midwest Nice than Madison Avenue. It is polite. It pays attention, and it definitely doesn’t promise something it can’t deliver (unlike that extended car warranty). That is something I want to be too.