Following up with networking contacts after a networking event is important if you want to turn those prospects into paying customers. Here are five simple strategies for following up.
Networking is vital to growing your business. Simply put, unless you go out and meet people nobody will know you exist. If they don’t know you exist they can’t hire you. You can be the best ‘networker’ out there but unless you follow up with the people you meet you are wasting your time. I have met so many people who complain to me that they meet people but that the leads go nowhere. Here’s why: business cards sitting in piles on your desk are not clients. I have found it easiest to follow up after networking events when I have a plan in place BEFORE I even leave my room.
Here are five simple strategies that I use to put that plan in place and make sure that I carry through.
1. Decide how and when you will follow up with people after the event.
Things that have worked for my clients and I are:
a. Send an article that is a good follow up to most of your conversations that represent what you do and is of value to readers. (Note: This should be an article that helps your new contact, not a sales brochure).
b. Pick up the phone and call.
(Note: Set aside time on your calendar to make those calls and decide what you want to accomplish with these calls…again, this is your opportunity to get to know them, NOT sell). c. Share a resource with them. Put them in touch with someone who can be of service to them or share your favorite book about a topic.
2. Bring a sharpie with you to all networking events.
After you speak with someone, write a quick note or two to remind you about what you spoke about and, if appropriate, what your next step will be. Why a sharpie? A lot of people have glossy business cards. A pen doesn’t always work.
3. Bring extra business cards (or even blank cards).
Since most people do not follow up after a networking event, it is more important for you to gather names than for you to give your card out and wait for them to call you. If someone you meet doesn’t have a business card (many people don’t bring enough) you can write his or her information on one of your own cards or on a blank one.
4. Tell them how you will be following up.
Will you call them in a few days? Will you send them an article? Will you call to set up a lunch date?
When you tell them what to expect it makes it real for both of you. You will be more likely to follow up because you told them that you will and they are going to be more receptive to the follow up because they know it’s coming. Oh, and the best part, they will often share the best way for you to follow up with them so they will be even more receptive.
5. Just because someone doesn’t call back or respond to your email does not mean they are not interested.
Reaching out one time after meeting them is not enough. It generally takes seven or eight touches before someone decides that they are ready to engage you. Touch base with them regularly. Continue to give information of value and interest to them.
When you follow up regularly and share information of value after meeting someone you become someone they trust. You will naturally build a solid relationship and before you know it the cards on your desk will become your best clients and partners.
What’s your plan for following up after your next networking event?