How often after an event have you found yourself with a dozen or more business cards only to put them in or on your desk to collect dust. Weeks may go by before you look at them again and forget who they are or where you met them. Well, that is why, right off the bat I suggest to put your picture on your business card. It does help when people see your picture to remember who you are. That would be my first suggestion.
Next, I would suggest you ask yourself what your goals are. Are you going to these events to become a card collector? I know in some industries it’s a numbers game but then that is not really networking. Networking is about building relationships not necessarily transactions.
So many of us put so much time and effort into networking but fail to follow up. Did you know that follow up should actually begin shortly after the introduction? You should instinctively know during your conversation whether or not you would like to speak or meet with them again. (Remember don’t just look at them as a potential client but rather a potential referral source.) So, you might want to say something like “I really enjoyed speaking with you and would love to follow up with this conversation. Would you prefer I contact you via telephone or email?” At that time, they will either say:
- Response A: “I enjoyed speaking with you as well but I am really busy right now – maybe we will run into each other again.” (meaning – they are not interested in networking with you) Keep in mind that doesn’t mean it’s over simply wait until you run into them again and let things happen naturally.
- Response B: “The best way to reach me is via email or ….”
At this time, you may want to make some notes on the back of their business card to help remind you of some key points in the conversation for your follow up.
The only way to see the “ROI” on networking is by putting in the time. Successful people know the importance of a strong network.
According to Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI – offers 2 tips – 1 for networking and 1 for follow up meeting:
1. A one-page flyer – Have a brief overview of your business ready to pass along at all times in case you meet someone while networking who wants to quickly pass along your information to a prospective client he/she knows. You should have a hard copy to fax and an electronic copy to email.
2. Question-and-answer sheets – One of the quickest ways to learn about a person’s business as a networker, and for him or her to learn about yours, is to make the initial meeting as organized as possible. A sheet with questions that you can each ask each other can ensure you don’t forget to find out the information that could lead to a quick referral.
A great article to read, by Dr. Ivan Misner, is “Don’t make this networking mistake” He explains how to go for the “long-term relationship” and not the “short sale.”
Try to follow up from immediately to up to 72 hours while the person and conversation is still somewhat fresh in not only your mind but the other persons mind as well. Hopefully, during the initial conversation you did most of the listening this way you can offer something of interest to them based on things they have said. For example, they may have said they love golfing – so maybe you can let them know of a golf outing that is coming up or an interesting article you may have recently read about golfing. You want to look for a solution to a problem they may be having. Your follow up can include:
- An article or a book you read
- An expert opinion
- A contact or introduction
- An invitation to an upcoming networking event or target event
- Refer to a commonality you both may have. For example:
- Could be You came from same town
- You share the same hobby
- You Vacationed at the same location
- Your both reading the same book
Just remember to be genuine and real and do not try to sell unless they showed an expressed interest in your product or service.
- Visibility comes with being present.
- Credibility grows during the follow ups.
- Conversations create stronger relationships.
For a more personal follow up, which will help you stand out from the rest, send a personal handwritten note or a personalized card from sendoutcards.com.
During the course of a conversation, you may want to ask if they utilize social media. You may request to connect on facebook. If that is too personal, ask if they have a business page that you can become a fan of or try connecting on linkedin. Start building the relationship before you actually need them. Suggest a date to meet explaining how you would like to know more about their business. People like to talk about themselves so be sure to ask open ended questions.
You need to feel out the person you are following up with. Be mindful of their time. Become someone they enjoy talking to. In order for your follow up to work you need to follow through. Remember it’s not about “chasing prospects” it’s about “building relationships”
There are guidelines or campaigns for your follow ups – one is reaching out with the 8 x 12 method – meaning – you reach out to potential prospect 8 times over a 12 week period which is more for a sales follow up. Networking follow up is a much longer process to building relationship that you hope to keep for most of your career.
You may want to break down the cards into 3 catergories:
- Prospective clients
- People you will refer to others
- People who will pass referrals to you
As the saying goes “The Fortune is in the Follow up” speaking of which, there is a recently published book out by Heidi Sloss called “The Fortune is in the Follow up” I have not had the pleasure of reading it yet but I may soon.
To help you stay more organized with your contacts and follow ups there is a site called jibberjobber.com – it is a personal relationship manager that can help you organize and track personal & professional relationships. It is free to set up and free to use or you can upgrade to a premium package for a low monthly cost but it is not necessary.
Don’t forget to reconnect with old business relationships, clients / customers because they too can become a good referral source.
Appropriate and sincere follow up will ultimately lead to meaningful and fruitful relationships
Here is a great guide for sales follow ups – creating a great follow up with your clients in 7 simple steps by followupsuccess.com
- 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
- 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.
- 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop.
- Only, 10% of businesses make more than three contacts. This means they’re losing a small fortune.
- 2% of sales are made on the first contact.
- 3% of sales are made on the second contact.
- 5% of sales are made on the third contact.
- 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
- 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.
About Laurinda Handlik
Laurinda Handlik of NY Introductions (Social Media Marketing & more) – Founder/President of NY Business Alliance (Networking group with a unique networking model).