THE ABC’S OF NETWORKING FOLLOW UP


Most of us have attended numerous networking events. We make it a point to meet and greet many people with the idea of building a relationship for potential business. So, why don’t we follow up?

How often after an event have you found yourself with a dozen or more business cards only to put them in or on your desk to collect dust. Weeks may go by before you look at them again and forget who they are or where you met them. Well, that is why, right off the bat I suggest to put your picture on your business card. It does help when people see your picture to remember who you are. That would be my first suggestion.

Next, I would suggest you ask yourself what your goals are. Are you going to these events to become a card collector? I know in some industries it’s a numbers game but then that is not really networking. Networking is about building relationships not necessarily transactions.

So many of us put so much time and effort into networking but fail to follow up. Did you know that follow up should actually begin shortly after the introduction? You should instinctively know during your conversation whether or not you would like to speak or meet with them again. (Remember don’t just look at them as a potential client but rather a potential referral source.) So, you might want to say something like “I really enjoyed speaking with you and would love to follow up with this conversation. Would you prefer I contact you via telephone or email?” At that time, they will either say:

 Response A: “I enjoyed speaking with you as well but I am really busy right now – maybe we will run into each other again.” (meaning – they are not interested in networking with you) Keep in mind that doesn’t mean it’s over simply wait until you run into them again and let things happen naturally.

  Response B: “The best way to reach me is via email or …..”

At this time, you may want to make some notes on the back of their business card to help remind you of some key points in the conversation for your follow up.

The only way to see the “ROI” on networking is by putting in the time. Successful people know the importance of a strong network.

According to Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, – here he offers 2 tips – 1 for networking and 1 for follow up meeting:

1. A one-page flyer. Have a brief overview of your business ready to pass along at all times in case you meet someone while networking who wants to quickly pass along your information to a prospective client he/she knows. You should have a hard copy to fax and an electronic copy to email.

2. Question-and-answer sheets. One of the quickest ways to learn about a person’s business as a networker, and for him or her to learn about yours, is to make the initial meeting as organized as possible. A sheet with questions that you can each ask each other can ensure you don’t forget to find out the information that could lead to a quick referral.

A great article to read, by Dr. Ivan Misner, is “Don’t make this networking mistake” He explains how to go for the “long-term relationship” and not the “short sale.”

Try to follow up from immediately to up to 72 hours while the person and conversation is still somewhat fresh in not only your mind but the other persons mind as well. Hopefully, during the initial conversation you did most of the listening this way you can offer something of interest to them based on things they have said. For example, they may have said they love golfing – so maybe you can let them know of a golf outing that is coming up or an interesting article you may have recently read about golfing. You want to look for a solution to a problem they may be having. Your follow up can include:

 An article or a book you read
 An expert opinion
 A contact or introduction
 An invitation to an upcoming networking event or target event
 Refer to a commonality you both may have. For example:

a) Maybe you came from the same town or a nearby town
b) You share the same hobby
c) You vacationed at the same location
d) Your both reading the same book

Just remember to be genuine and real and do not try to sell unless they showed an expressed interest in your product or service.

 Visibility comes with being present.
 Credibility grows during the follow ups.
Conversations create stronger relationships.

For a more personal follow up, which will help you stand out from the rest, send a personal handwritten note or a personalized card from sendoutcards.com.

During the course of a conversation, you may want to ask if they utilize social media. You may request to connect on facebook. If that is too personal, ask if they have a business page that you can become a fan of or try connecting on linkedin. Start building the relationship before you actually need them. Suggest a date to meet explaining how you would like to know more about their business. People like to talk about themselves so be sure to ask open ended questions.
You need to feel out the person you are following up with.

Be mindful of their time.

Become someone they enjoy talking to.

In order for your follow up to work you need to follow through.

Remember it’s not about “chasing prospects” it’s about “building relationships”

There are sales guidelines or campaigns for follow ups – one is reaching out with the 8 x 12 method – meaning – you reach out to potential prospect 8 times over a 12 week period.  Networking follow up is a much longer process to building relationship that you hope to keep for most of your career.

You may want to break down the cards into 3 catergories:

 Prospective clients
 People you will refer to others
 People who will pass referrals to you

As the saying goes “The Fortune is in the Follow up” speaking of which, there is a recently published book out by Heidi Sloss called “The Fortune is in the Follow up” I have not had the pleasure of reading it yet but I will soon.

To help you stay more organized with your contacts and follow ups there is a site called jibberjobber.com – it is a personal relationship manager that can help you organize and track personal & professional relationships. It is free to set up and free to use or you can upgrade to a premium package for a low monthly cost but it is not necessary.

Don’t forget to reconnect with old business relationships, clients / customers because they too can become a good referral source.

Appropriate and sincere follow up will ultimately lead to meaningful and fruitful relationships.

Here is a great guide for sales follow ups – creating a great follow up with your clients in 7 simple steps by followupsuccess.com
Statistically speaking – for sales…..

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.

25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.

12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop.

Only, 10% of businesses make more than three contacts. This means they’re losing a small fortune.

Because…

2% of sales are made on the first contact.

3% of sales are made on the second contact.

5% of sales are made on the third contact.

10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.

80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.

Back in January, 2011, I wrote about Networking 101 – part 1 / Networking 101 – part 2 . This article is a follow up to networking 101 on how to follow up.
Laurinda Handlik of NY Introductions (Social Media Marketing & more) – Founder/President of NY Business Alliance (Networking group with a unique networking model)

Twitter: @Laurindanyintro

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Start the New Year Off Right and Learn How to Network Effectively



NETWORKING GUIDE 101

Recently I was asked to put something together about networking.  Since I have been around the block in the networking arena – I tried to remember what it was like when I first started.  My first thought were my fears of networking and believe it or not even veteran networker’s get knots in their stomachs from time to time when walking into a crowded room of unfamiliar faces.  So, here are some basic questions and answers.

What do I do when I first enter an event?

  • Attend with the right mindset.  Your goal is to meet people and build relationships, not make a sale.  Go with the idea of ‘how can I help others’  or with a goal like “I would like to meet at least one person that I would want to follow up with and have a one on one.”
  • Look around and observe the people in the room.  You may want to approach the person standing alone.  For psychological reasons, you may feel more comfortable approaching someone of the same physical stature as yourself and a gender that you are more comfortable with.
  • Rather than being a wall flower and waiting for someone to approach you try to make the first move, this will allow you to choose who you would like to speak with.
  • If approaching a group of people notice how the group is positioned.  If they are in a closed circle then wait for another opportunity.  If the people talking are more open and standing side by side this will make for a better opportunity to approach.
  • When approaching a group try to listen to what they are speaking about and ask if it is ok to join them and introduce yourself.

What questions do I ask?                                                        

One thing to keep in mind is that people like to talk about themselves.  Ask open ended questions like:

  • What products or service does your company offer?
  • How did you get started in the industry?
  • What made you choose your profession?
  • What kind of contacts are good for you? or
  • How can I know if someone I am talking to is a good prospect  for you?
  • How are you finding business in this economy? or
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • Where else do you normally network?

Open ended questions help you to avoid the awkwardness of silence that comes from the yes or no questions.

Again, remember why you are there.  It’s NOT to sell.  It’s about building relationships and genuinely looking to help connect people to people.  Really listen to what they are saying and find out what they need because you may be able to offer some other kind of information like the name of a book or an interesting article or something that is new to the market or industry, or any other useful or valuable information.

One thing to always keep in mind – because you help someone does not mean they can always help you back or that they owe you.  This way you won’t set yourself up for disappointment or be quick to discard that contact.  You never know who they may meet that could use your services or help you down the road.  Worst case scenario is you made another friend or contact. That’s not such a bad deal.

How do I politely end the conversation?                        

 

You know when the conversation is finished and it’s time to move on and believe me so does the other person.  You can either run away or try one of the few exit strategies below:

  • Thank you for your time (first name), maybe we can arrange a time for us to both meet again and talk at greater length.  (Only do this if you really want to arrange another meeting.)
  • I know your time is valuable (first name), so I will let you get back to networking.
  • Introduce them to someone else that you think may be of interest to them or someone that would be interested in what they do.
  • Suggest to them that you are going to get a drink or bite to eat and actually do it!  Don’t say that then turn around to start a conversation with someone else.

NETWORKING DON’T’S

  • Don’t try to sell fellow networkers or others at networking events.  You are not there to make a sale.
  • Don’t go around handing out your business cards to everyone there.  KEEP YOUR BUSINESS CARDS TO YOURSELF.  It’s the worst thing you could do at any networking event.  Most people will just throw them away.  Why would they want your card when you haven’t even bothered to get to know who they are?  BIG BOO BOO!
  • Try to only collect the cards of those you will follow up with.  Although it can’t be avoided when someone hands you their card during an introduction.
  • Don’t scan the room when you are speaking with someone unless you explain to them that you are waiting for someone that you are supposed to be meeting there.  There is nothing more insulting than speaking with someone who is busy looking around the room for someone else to speak with.
  • Don’t only hang out with the people you know because you already know them instead introduce them to others so they can make new contacts as well.
  • Don’t keep talking about yourself – ask questions.
  • Don’t go to an event just to make an appearance.  Plan on staying for awhile. To say that you are too busy to stay is implying that everyone else there has nothing better to do.
  • Don’t only go to 2 or 3 events a year.  You will never build relationships that way.  Being PRESENT & VISIBLE is important because it creates awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will become.  Without visibility you cannot get to the next level of credibility.  
  • You will also want to dress to impress.    No, not like that…….. > Although,  I am sure a lot of you males would like that 😉 – but would you really be paying attention to what she is saying???
  • How you dress says a lot about you – 

There you go – dress business or business casual

There is a time and a place for networking – it’s called ANY time and ANY place

NETWORKING TIPS

  • Be genuine
  • Always smile  🙂
  • Follow up with the cards you collect
  • When you receive someone else’s card you may want to jot down what you both discussed to jog your memory
  • Look people in the eye when you speak to them
  • Be prepared – practice a 45 – 60 second presentation about what you do
  • Focus in on what the other person is saying or you may miss some important points
  • Try to hear what their problems are – you may be a hero if you can offer advice or an introduction that can solve it
  • Never criticize others
  • If attending a networking meeting  or seminar rather than a meet and greet event be sure to arrive early and stay late – they are the best opportunities for networking
  • Show sincere appreciation for other’s accomplishments 
  • Always be positive.  Be the one who brightens a room and all conversations that you engage in
  • “Praise loudly, blame softly”

It’s not always what you know or who you know but more about “how well you know them.”

Productive networking takes time – it’s like a garden – you plant the seed, then you have to constantly water it and take care of it before you see you results.

If you neglect it – it dies and fades away.    

The common denominator of networking is people.  People are humans and humans need time to build rapport & trust.

Opportunities will present themselves, you need to be there and listen.

Opportunities come when you least expect them.        

Always be Happy & Enthusiastic.

HAPPY NETWORKING