“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” What a great slogan! We often organize our lives in silos. You have your gym friends. Work friends. Church friends. Neighborhood friends. If you moved away you might lose touch with 90% of them. My wife and I are continually adding friends. This includes people we met aboard ship. On each voyage we meet at least one couple we want to know long term. Their names are in our “Cunard friends” folder on Hotmail. But how do you get started?
- Make an effort to meet people. You are in a bubble. It’s a pretty big bubble. You are at sea for 7, 14 or more days. You’ve got time. Meet people. Shared interests is a good area.
- Give a reason for wanting to stay in touch. On the Love Boat it was easy. The stars walking down the gangway wanted to date or get married. You have more options. If you have a shared interest like wine or gourmet cooking, there are lots of things you might want to share. These have value. Another idea is to simply say: “I’ve enjoyed meeting you. I would like to stay in touch.” You have some great photos from the trip. You want to share them.
- Get contact information. People can be cagey. Maybe you don’t ask for their street address, but I usually go for it. We send Christmas cards. You might be able to connect on social media immediately. E-mail makes sense. Try to get two channels, the second as a backup in case you can’t read their handwriting on the cocktail napkin.
- Make the first move. Do it early. When you get home, send them a note within the first week or two. Don’t wait to hear from them. E-mail those photos. Send the recipe you promised.
- Be prepared for silence. We meet people. We send e-mails. One fellow writes back shortly after I hit the send key! He must be sitting at his keyboard! Others write back a month or two later. Some never. The reasons are varied. Some people are disorganized. Others are terrible correspondents. I have sent e-mails to our “Cunard friends” at different intervals. Sometimes it’s once every three months. During the pandemic, it’s every two weeks.
- It’s not about bragging. Our e-mails talk about everyday life in our corner of the world. The deer eat everything in the garden except the weeds. How our local economy is reopening after the lockdown restrictions. People share their local stories. It’s an extension of your shipboard conversations that got you liking each other in the first place.
- Don’t try selling anything. They might be a great candidate for insurance or investments. You might have chatted about that in general terms aboard ship. Take it easy. If they mentioned they owned certain stocks and you promised to send research material, follow through on your promise. Sounding predatory will scare them off.
- Know when to fold ‘em. We might have met nice people. They were keen on keeping in touch. They aren’t responsive. If you don’t hear back after maybe three attempts, assume they aren’t interested.
- Christmas cards. This is why you want their mailing address. We send cards. Expect overseas mailing will take longer. This sometimes prompts the non-responders into action. You might include those non-responders on your card list for the first year. You will be surprised the number of people who send cards and how much it costs for your UK friends to pop one in the mail!
- Expect this will go farther than you imagine. Some people will deepen the relationship at a faster pace. During the pandemic, Thursday at 4:00 PM is our weekly scheduled virtual cocktail call with friends in Stratford upon Avon. The New Zealand friends insisted we visit and took us around for eight days! Both couples were our houseguests at different times. Monday was a phone call with a London friend we met aboard ship. This list goes on.
Making this effort can produce remarkable dividends. Everyone can use a few more friends.
Photo: Queen Victoria evening, credit Bryce Sanders