Jun
11

8 Powerful Ways For Follow Up

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powerfulfollowupA lot of networking isn’t in making new contacts but following them up and developing the relationship.

To reap the benefits of networking, you have to become a master of follow up.  Not everyone you meet will instantly want to refer you or do business with you. You have to stay top of mind (in front of them) with emails, phone calls and in-person meetings.

Follow up, and keep following up. How many times have you been along to a networking event and had some great conversations? You swapped business cards and promised to “stay in touch”. You get back to work the next day, get stuck into your work and those good connections you made the day before soon become forgotten about and just another business card buried under the paperwork on your desk. Sound familiar? Neglecting to follow up with new contacts is one of the biggest mistakes people make with their networking. Not following up turns all your hard effort during the networking event into a waste of time. And just sending one email after meeting someone for the first time is not going to produce a new client or a flow of good referrals.

Here are 8 powerful ways for you to follow up with your connections;

1. Follow up with new contacts by doing things that have immediate value. Most people aren’t good at following up new contacts. The best follow-up from an initial meeting is one that provides value to the recipient. Perhaps an idea to help them or a link to a useful resource. The more it’s clear that you have thought about them and how to help them, the more likely they are to classify you as “someone to trust”. Of course, in order to do this, you need to understand what might be useful to them. And that comes down to the questions you asked (and how well you were listening) during the initial conversation. Understanding their (business) issues, challenges and aspirations is essential to this.

2. Keep in contact with regular 121 meetings. This is the forgotten key to building relationships that will lead to ongoing business and referrals. It’s how you go from “contact” to “connection”, from “acquaintance” to “friendship”, from prospect to client, from customer to advocate. 121 interactions can occur over a cup of coffee, a bite to eat or a drink after work. You could call and ask a client or contact if you can take a tour of their business operations. Why not invite them to a coming event they might be interested in and schedule time afterwards to sit down and share what you thought of the event with each other. The point is you’ve got to take the time to build the relationship.

3. Try to find out what is really important to the other person. Then think about other things you can do for them. Maybe provide a testimonial. If you see an article or some information that might be interesting, send it to them. Invite them to events where you think they’ll get benefit and introduce them to other members of your network. If it’s appropriate, promote their business on your website or in a newsletter you send out. Make referrals for them every time you have the opportunity — this might mean actively looking for potential clients/customers for them. There will be times when it’s appropriate to provide support. It maybe that they organise events and it might be appropriate that you sponsor them and there maybe opportunities where you can actually collaborate or form a joint venture with the other person. It’s important that you invest in your business/networking relationships and the way you do that is by finding things you can do for the other person (without expecting anything in return). By doing that you move others to do things for you.

4. Make your 121 meetings really count. Don’t walk away from a single 121 meeting without agreeing to do something or having gained or shared some useful information/advice. Ask your networking associates about the groups and organisations they find most fruitful. Discuss cross-marketing opportunities. Ask for the introductions and referrals you need to build your business. Help each other with a problem. Learn how to refer someone in your network to your contact. Teach them how to refer someone in their network to you. Teach them how to talk about your business to their own network members and learn how to talk about their business to the people you know. Exchange promises to make helpful introductions. Create a commitment or obligation to do something together or for each other. Set a date for the next 121 meeting.

5. Have substantive/productive/results-oriented conversations, not marshmallow ones. Most networking conversations are “small talk” and don’t go anywhere. Be different and ask questions that foster engagement and open the door to a mutually beneficial relationship. Find out about your networking contacts—what they do, how they do it, who benefits from it and how they benefit. Find out what are they passionate about, what are they struggling with, what are they looking for and what are their ambitions and objectives for their business. And then let them find out these things about you. (When I’m in conversation with my clients and networking contacts, I like to focus on things like, family, interest, talents, challenges and contacts)

6. No time to foster relationships? Of course you do. Always have your list of contacts at hand and snatch 15 minutes every now and then to make calls and shoot off emails and text messages ― ”Just touching base to see how you’re travelling.” This is what the great business developers do to keep in touch with people who are important to them, despite their busy schedules. A friend of mine says that networking is like shaving…..if you miss two days in a row, you look like a bum. He makes networking (meeting new people and reaching out people he already knows) a part of his daily routine. If you have business development responsibilities, you should do the same and it will translate into more confidence, more sales, more referrals and more clients.

7. Schedule times in your diary to keep in touch with the people who are really important to you. When most people think about networking, they think about meeting new people/going to some kind of event. What they forget is that the real value gained, the big payoff from networking comes from deepening relationships with the people you already know. Unless you “click” immediately, these deepening relationships will only come from you spending time with people over time. Typically, you don’t go from “stranger to new client or referral source” with one conversation. It takes time.

8. Keep expanding who you know. Attend three or four networking events each month and follow up with the people you meet. Getting out to networking events will do more to build our business than making cold calls, doing mail-outs, advertising and spending money on a website or well-designed brochure. And nothing, absolutely nothing is likely to come of all your efforts to meet people if you don’t follow up. New contacts almost never become clients, customers or referral partners as a result of a one-time meeting. It’s not the initial contact that does the trick; the rewards come from following up, following up on your follow-up and staying in touch. The majority, more than 80 percent, of buying decisions and referrals are made after the 5th contact. You have to be meeting, calling and emailing people on a regular basis if you’re going to turn those initial contacts into business.

Happy networking. Maybe we will see each other at a networking event some day.

Referred to as “That Networking Guy” by many organizations, Ron Gibson provides in-depth networking training and coaching, focusing on business growth and development. Get Ron to speak at your next conference or sales meeting about how to bring in more business, more consistently and more often.  Ron can be reached on mobile 0413 420 538 and email gonetworking@iinet.net.au

Categories : Networking Systems

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