Article: Success Depends on Your Follow-up Plan
These simple steps will help you implement a follow-up system that you can start implementing now.
When you know you’re going to a function, make sure you schedule in time the next morning to follow up with the people you met/interacted with there. For example, when I go to a networking event, I make time the next morning to send emails and make connections on Facebook with anyone I connected with. It’s important to do this right away while you’re still fresh in the person’s mind. If you’re hoping to meet with someone in-person, i.e. for a lunch or coffee, it’s best to reach out right away to increase the chances of making that happen.
Decide what your follow-up system is. As I mentioned above, I send an email and make a connection on Facebook. I do this with everyone I meet and acquire a business card from. In my email, I say that it was nice to meet them and include something personal that relates to what we talked about. This is a nice way to start to build a relationship with them. I like to connect with people on Facebook as well. Since I interact regularly there, it helps me build relationships with new friends, and it helps them get a sense of who I am. I’m in regular contact there as opposed to emailing once and a while.
When I make deeper connection when I’m out – for example people who are interested in learning more about my services or someone who might be a great referral source, I will suggest continuing the conversation and booking a time to either chat by phone or meet in person for coffee/lunch. This can be done by email or phone and really depends on how you think the other person likes to communicate. Sometimes you may have limited contact information on their business card, i.e. you may be given a phone number or email address only. If I’ve really connected with the person, I usually suggest chatting or meeting when we’re talking in-person. Usually what follows is just booking a time to connect via email.
What to do if someone isn’t responding? I try not to take this personally – believe me it’s hard sometimes – but if you think about how much communication you receive in one day, it’s overwhelming to say the least. Other people are in the same boat. Depending on the person and the type of connection made, I might attempt to call or email one more time and then that’s it. You will get a sense of what feels right. Just make sure that you are following up, because your fear of putting yourself out there can get in the way.
A long-term strategy is to follow up every quarter with your contacts. A little note or card via regular mail is the best way to do this. It’s something different than email and it lets the person know you’re thinking about them and made the effort to connect with them. You can send a note saying ‘hi’ or even a letter every now and then – both are great follow-up strategies. Letting people know what you’re up to and how you help people can be a great referral source as well. Think about a referral incentive you can offer too, i.e. a free session or gift card for every person they refer to you, etc.
I also want to point this out – regarding all of the above suggestions, you don’t have to be too “salesy”. This is just about building relationships. It’s also helpful to think about how you can help the other person move forward. I love connecting people to other resources/people that can help them move forward. The tips I gave you above relate to having a follow-up system for attending events. If you have a lead – someone who has expressed interest in working with you – that is a different follow-up system entirely.