If you want to rise and outshine your competition and continually advance and forge mutually beneficial business relationships, I strongly recommend that you fulfill the most critical part of networking: Follow Up!
Example: You attend your networking meeting and like almost everyone who attended, you gave your “30-second” connection (elevator speech), listened to the other members give theirs, listened to the speaker, stayed for a few minutes after the meeting and went back to your office. The next week… it’s the same old thing. Attending the the weekly meeting itself and seeing the same people is not enough. Booooring!
It’s time to get off your butt and make some serious progress in networking. If you haven’t met with the others in your group “outside” of the weekly meeting you are missing the point! I submit that you cannot really get to know someone and their business unless you “make” time to arrange a productive meeting with them at their office away from the weekly meeting.
Re-connecting with people in your group or shortly after you meet a new member, sends the message that you serious about a relationship, proactive and willing to invest the time and effort to get to know them. Initial contact is great, but you aren’t really networking if the relationship does not continue. Be clear about your intentions for any meeting beforehand so the other party can prepare accordingly.
Always approach follow ups with a philosophy of being of service. Your intention is to discover how best you can help them. The first face-to-face meeting is about further developing your rapport with your new contact. This important face-to-face will help you learn more about them personally and will give you an opportunity to see their business close-up. I recommend that each personal face-to-face at their business be followed by a lunch where you can continue to learn more about them.
This out-of-networking-meeting meeting should be about them – not you. Discuss how you could be of assistance to them. If they want to know more about you, let them ask, but focus on them. You are there to get to know “them” better. Begin with the newest members of your group and continue to arrange meetings with everyone in your group. Ask lots of questions. Really get to know them. Don’t just talk business, get personal. Ask about their family, hobbies, interests and things they like to do.
Be an information seeker. Informational interviewing gives you a great opportunity to gather the kind of information that will forge a closer relationship and will help you to help them better. If during your conversation you are advised to contact someone in particular or to look at a particular resource, make sure you have all information needed to contact that person or find that resource.
Be certain before you leave that you know exactly the kind of business referrals that would be beneficial to them. (Read that sentence again!) Why? Because that is the specific reason you are meeting with them. Remember to be respectful of their company and their time. Never overstay your welcome. Extend an invitation to meet them again at your office. If you work out of your home, meet them there.
Don’t stop there. Continue to build the relationship. If the connection is great, you may want to meet with them socially. It’s all about making great friends and working together to help each other. There are many different ways to stay in touch. the important thing is that you do stay in touch!
This kind of face-to-face follow up also works well when you meet someone new at a major networking event like Networking Phoenix. The larger events usually lack the structure you find in smaller more intimate networking groups. If you are like me, I network with other people outside of my networking group as long as they are not in competition with someone in my group. Loyalty to “one” networking group is very important. I do not recommend being a member of more than one small networking group for that very reason… loyalty.
Reach out to people already in your network and to your peers in the different organizations you’re part of to find out if there is someone you should connect with.
This is how you start to build great relationships and expand your network. To see them only once a week without effective follow up is the snail’s way to networking success. It’s time to get on the fast track!
“Networking can take time and energy if you let it, or it can be integrated into your daily activities with a simple change in mindset to be more effortless. A small, consistent investment of time each week can pay off huge dividends in the future for you and your network.” ~ Lisa Rangel
Larry’s NOTE: Click the “Follow Up” link in the article index on the right for more articles about Follow Up!”
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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