A lack of follow-up has been the doom of many salespeople. It is one of the biggest mistakes they can make. Follow up can be awkward if you don’t have a plan.
“Follow up must be timely, relevant and real. There’s a person of my acquaintance who shares leads and referrals that are what we call ‘dead leads/rusted referrals’ who inspired that “secret” in my book. Perhaps I was too subtle. So, I will gladly repeat, reframe and reiterate: Timely referrals are gold. If you’re going to tell someone about a job lead, be sure it exists. If you’re going to share the name of an agent, be sure that person is still in business and taking on new clients. If you’re referring someone for a media interview, be sure that there’s a “fit”. You get the drift?” ~ Susan Roane, The Mingling Maven
Make business networking follow up a habit that you do quickly. Timely and consistent follow-up is the key to successful marketing provided you have truly connected with that person and not merely collected their business card. If a business card you have collected doesn’t belong to a prospective customer, referral source, or someone you can collaborate with. . . toss it. No need keeping the card of someone you don’t plan to follow up with.
Your assignment, if you decide to take it on, is to be in the process of building relationships with complementary businesses – businesses that you feel can mutually benefit each other when they work together – to increase your influence and position within a specific market or industry. Remember, the “secret sauce” of networking is building relationships. Relationships will naturally increase your influence, and influence creates opportunity and improved market position.
If someone is a potential referral source rather than a prospect for potential business, your best approach is to establish a reciprocal relationship. Always phone first to stimulate interest in working together. If they are not receptive, hang up, shout, “NEXT!” and move on.
Once you have engaged in conversation with a good potential contact – once you have created a positive first impression begin an interesting dialogue about various areas of common interest. Listen carefully for hints of ways you can work together. One objective of networking should be to plant seeds for future relationships and get togethers. Find a reason during the conversation to follow up. It’s always easier to make the follow up call if you know the other person is expecting it.
When you find a way to connect them to a resource or contact in your network, speak up. Say something like, “I have a contact who may be able to help you with that. I’d be happy to call you with his information,” or “I can think of several reasons how we might be about to work together, I’ll give you a call to arrange a time to get together.”
The follow-up is where most individuals drop the ball. For many, follow up is the hardest part, since it involves real-world interaction with others. When the ball is dropped two things can happen:
1. You lose out on a opportunity to get connected to a whole different network of contacts, and
2. You can loose credibility by not following up when you have expressed an interest to be in touch.
Always remember, networking is about giving first and receiving second. Developing a long-term business relationship has a much better chance of happening when you reach out to collaborate rather than be in a rush to sell them your product or service, especially on your first meeting. That’s what networking jerks do. Continue to follow up with an occasional phone call to them and remain in contact as long as there is interest and commitment to do so. Continued interactions are necessary.
If it’s someone I want to follow up with, I make notes on the back of their business card to help me remember them. Note anything unusual about them or the work they do, any details or specifics that you might forget. Note also, right then and there, any ideas you have about follow up: the link you promised to send or the resource you want to pass along. When you call refer to something they said or to a common interest you discussed at your first meeting. Suggest ways you can work together.
I prefer calling first, never just dropping by because “you were in the neighborhood.” The truth is, almost any follow-up method will work if you use it well and consistently. The best method for you is whichever one you are most comfortable with and can do every time the need arises. Consistency is the key.
Follow up is not a numbers game. It is not necessary to spend time meeting scores of new people every year hoping that a handful of them will convert into good contacts. Be picky. Only follow up with those that you really connected with. Make sure the feeling is mutual.
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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