Sue Clement, Guest Author
Are you getting results from your networking? If all you have to show for your efforts are tons of business cards, you may have to work on your follow-up. Here are 7 tips to get you started… and get clients!
You spend a lot of time and money on networking, and you have pockets full of business cards to prove it. Maybe you even have them neatly scanned into your database. But are they simply sitting there or are you actually making use of them?
Here’s the thing: if you’re not going to follow up with your new contacts, you might as well save yourself the trouble of meeting them in the first place.
So get ready to learn the fine art of follow-up in seven easy steps:
1. Capture the info – You’ve got their cards. But what will you remember if you look at these cards two weeks or 2 months later? Probably not much. So right after the meeting or event (and even during, if possible, right after you met your new contact), take a moment to jot down any key facts you remember about that person or what you have talked about.
What does she do? What hobbies does he have? Jot down anything you discussed that will help you break the ice when you speak again.
2. Store the info – Next, make sure that the business cards of your new contacts have a home, either on your computer (get a card scanner already!) or in one of those big business card folders. Sort them by where you met them, type of industry, and the amount of follow-up time you plan to invest. Have a special place for those with whom you follow up repeatedly. And don’t forget to include your notes.
3. The first follow-up – As soon as you get home (or within a day or so), send them an email, telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them, adding a detail about what you discussed. Then add that you’d like to follow up to see how you might be able to help them with THEIR business.
That’s right, you’re NOT trying to sell them. Your focus continues to be on building a relationship. To many people follow up with a fast sales pitch about what they offer – don’t do it! (unless specifically asked)
4. Make the call – If they haven’t called you first, and they are a contact “with potential,” call them. Don’t make it too complicated. Just pick up the phone, and say that you’d like to follow up to find out more about their business. Remember you intent is to deepen the connection and discover how you might be able to help them (not to sell to them). Be sure to suggest a meeting if appropriate.
5. Meet them – Finally, meet them again, for coffee or lunch, and for exchanging information about their business (and yours as well). Ask them questions about their business and themselves. What are their hopes, challenges, and why do they do what they do? Who would be ideal referrals for them? Is there anyone you can make an introduction or connect them to? They will probably ask you the same questions, so be prepared with answers.
6. Give them value – If you can, be sure to send someone their way. Giving referrals can get you referrals. If you don’t have a referral but come across some information or an article they might find helpful, send it on over.
7. Build and nurture the relationship – Continue to build and nurture the relationship over time. Put them into a “contact” rotation, following up with them regularly. Think of activities they might enjoy and invite them to other events. Yes, golf can work. So can a networking event. Or even a seminar, workshop or any gathering that fits for them.
And that’s it. The steps are simple enough, but don’t fool yourself, it takes focus and dedication to do. Yet if you follow them, you’re going to reap impressive rewards. They’re designed to turn those pockets full of business cards into long-term business relationships and even friendships. Take these seven steps, and watch your business grow.
Copyright © 2012 – Sue Clement. A dynamic speaker, author, referral expert, and business coach Sue Clement is known for expediting business success. With over 30 years experience in management and sales, Sue brings a depth of real world experience to her clients and audiences. After building a local employment agency from concept into a multi-million dollar enterprise, she is no stranger to the challenges of owning a business and is an expert in marketing, sales and customer service. Sue is an advocate of building powerful networks to leverage one’s success. Visit her Website at: http://www.SueClement.com/
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