We’ve talked about how to choose networking events and plan your strategy in
Networking Part I –A Compliment to Social Media
In Networking Part II –Rules of Engagement, we discussed how to conduct yourself during the actual networking event.
Networking Part III introduced the No No’s of Networking. We read through a list of ‘Don’t’s’ to remember.
To counter-balance the No’s from the previous Part III, we studied a list of Do’s in Networking Part IV – Doing it Right.
We’re ready now to talk about the most important aspect of networking, and by far the most neglected – The Follow-Up.
All of us have probably been guilty of this one. We take the time and effort to find that perfect networking event, meet the people we want to get to know, make a great impression, and then never do the necessary follow up. Or if we do manage to do it, it’s done as an after thought, much too late to have any positive affect.
The secret is to make this an automatic task at the end of each networking event, like writing a Thank You note for a gift, so you can get into the habit of doing it without fail.
FOLLOW UP the NEXT business day! Make this your routine after every networking event. The people you met will be impressed with your punctual attitude and professionalism. Remember when we talked about asking for permission to follow up after the event, and how best to do it? This is where that all comes in. Now you know whether your contact prefers to be emailed, called or texted. You will be using the method that they will probably best respond to. This saves you time and effort and frustration.
FOLLOW UP with a bit of information. It’s always nice to add a bit of viable information with your follow up. Maybe you can add a link to a blog you think would be helpful for your client’s business. Perhaps during your conversation at the networking event you learned of a hobby your client enjoys and you send them an entertaining piece you think they will enjoy. The possibilities are limitless. Just be sure to put the proper amount of thought into it and make it something that will be received with gratitude and enthusiasm.
FOLLOW UP to set up an appointment. This is your opportunity to ask for an appointment. Perhaps you offer a free consultation, or ask to meet for coffee to discuss their work in more detail. Sometimes an offer to talk, free of any future obligations, puts the prospect at ease. Without the high pressure to purchase, and knowing that nothing is expected of them until they know more about your services or product, allows for a relaxed mood and they will be more open to hearing what you have to offer. In turn you have the opportunity to learn more about them and how best you can be of service to them.
FOLLOW UP more than one time. This is always a question that comes up when discussing following up with a prospect. How many times is too many? Please remember that studies indicate that it takes 6-8 times of getting your name in front of the prospect before they may respond. Don’t give up after couple of times.
I’ve had people tell me that unless the prospect specifically states “please don’t contact me any more”, they keep trying. My own experience has taught me that just when I think they aren’t even reading my emails or listening to my voice mails any more, I get that long awaited call. Some of my best business deals came after months of following up on the initial contact.
The important element to this, though, is to make sure that each new follow up email, or phone call, or letter sounds as original as the very first one. Never make snide remarks about them not getting back to you, or hint that maybe they lost your letter, didn’t receive your email, etc. Stay professional and upbeat. And continue to pass along bits of information you think they might find useful.
FOLLOW UP with Social Media connections. And now we’ve come full circle. You’ve made some new contacts, vendors and prospects. Now is the time to ask to connect with them on the Social Media venues like LinkedIn, Twitter, and business pages for Facebook. Here is where you can get to know them better, share information, and build that ever-important relationship!
I hope you’ve found these networking blogs helpful. I wish you the best in future endeavors and look forward to connecting with you ~