Effective Networking – The All-Important Follow Up by Ellen Kaminsky

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Apr 8th, 2013
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networkingSuccessful entrepreneurs understand effective networking leads to sales. And the most successful networkers are those who consistently follow up with those they meet.

What’s the point of going to events, and meeting new people, if you’re not going to do the follow up to see where the relationship can go? If you wait for the other person to call, you’re missing out on sales.

It’s the follow up that gets the sale so here are my top ten tips for ensuring you do everything you can to maximize that first meeting:

  1. Schedule Time. Just like you would add an event to your calendar, you need to include follow up time on your calendar as well. Always add at least a half hour, within 24 hours of the event, to write your emails or make your follow up phone calls. Don’t use this time for anything else.

  2. Don’t Collect Cards Unless You Mean It. Too often people’s desks are overrun with cards from those with whom they’ll never do business. Separate the cards you accept so you know with whom you plan to have a conversation later.

  3. Decide When You Meet Them. A good networker knows immediately if the conversation will continue after the event is over. You know this because you’ve both agreed to reconnect. You’ve found common ground or ways in which one of you can help the other. Perhaps you simply connected well and both expressed interest in meeting again.

  4. Know What You’ll Say. When you meet someone, note on the back of their card what you talked about, what you have in common, or what you promised to do for them. Follow up because you feel you can offer something of value (information, help, guidance, connections, anything that feels like a relationship in the making). Tell them how and when you plan to contact them. “I’ll send you that link tomorrow. Is the email on your card the one I should use?” “I would love to have coffee with you; let me call you tomorrow when I have my calendar in front of me. Is this the number I should call?”

  5. Have a System. Instead of letting those business cards pile up on your desk, make a place where they are systematically processed. Cards only sit on my desk for about 2-3 weeks. After that they’ve either been stapled to a folder (because a proposal was accepted); put in my card file (because I think I may be able to send referrals to them later); or consigned to the recycle bin (either the person wanted to be added to my newsletter list, failed to respond or ended the conversation).

  6. The Two Day Rule. Like fish, follow up calls get dicey after a couple of days. Anything more than a few days and people will forget what you talked about and, too often, the warm impression you made may have cooled. If you meet someone on a Friday, be sure to let them know you’ll follow up on Monday.

  7. Call To Action. Relationships work when both sides participate. Think of it like a conversation: the most effective way to keep someone engaged is to ask open ended questions. Same goes for follow up. Be sure to let them know what they need to do next. If you’ve agreed to meet for lunch, send dates and ask them to let you know which day is best. If you promised to send an information link, ask them to share their thoughts on how it helped them. If you said you’d make an introduction, ask them to let you know how the conversation went.

  8. It’s More Than One Contact. Statistics indicate that 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact. Your follow up will be more effective if you bring value each time you contact them. A piece of useful information, a tip, an introduction to someone they need to meet, a link to something they need. Be prepared to continue giving over a period of time. Persistence pays off!

  9. Social Media. Don’t forget the power of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online networking tools to build relationships over time. After you’ve met someone, see if they are active on the same sites as you. Don’t take it personally if they don’t respond; not everyone understands the power of social media (yet).

  10. Do Not Stalk. Yes, sales take time but there is a difference between follow up and becoming an annoyance. If you’ve done a couple of follow ups, and gotten no response, stop sending emails and leaving phone messages. Do not be offended if someone unsubscribes from your email list (especially if you’ve not gotten their permission to add their name in the first place.)

It’s key to remember sales are much more likely to happen when a relationship has been established and nurtured. The key to building relationships is in the follow up. Done effectively, your follow up will result in more interest, build believability and reinforce trust — three critical elements leading to relationships that result in sales.

Here’s to YOUR success!

© Ellen Kaminsky

Ellen Kaminsky is The Elevator Speech Therapist™. 

And if you liked these tips then you will want the Get a Plan! Guide® to Networking. Networking is a far more important skill and practice than any of us can really comprehend. Years ago, it wasn’t necessary to know how to network because you knew who you knew – and that was all you needed to know. Today… that is far from true. Learn 19 Networking Need-to-Knows in this practical and specific guide which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series.

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