Don’t Just Show Up. Follow-up

“70% of success in life is showing up.”

                                –Woody Allen

Maybe that’s true “in life.”   But it’s certainly not true with networking events.There are three keys to a successful networking event.  Each is equally important.

  • Showing Up (at the right venues).
  • Making new connections and renewing old ones.
  • Following-up systematically.

If you show up at the wrong venues (places where your target market does not hang out), you’re wasting your time.  If you don’t follow-up, it doesn’t matter how many great connections you make at a networking event. You’re wasting your time—and theirs.

Here are three rules for following up after networking events:

1.  Don’t Decorate Your Desk with Business Cards—When you return from a networking event, immediately review the business cards you’ve collected.  Otherwise you’ll forget important info about the people you’ve connected with.Don’t do what I’ve done:  spread the cards out on the desk and stare at them for a while, then put them into little piles, and then move the piles around your desk over the next few days.

2.  Prioritize Contacts—After reviewing the cards, decide whom to follow up with. You don’t need to follow up with everyoneDont Just Show Up. Follow up. image Follow up phone cardDont Just Show Up. Follow up. whose card you collected.  In fact, you shouldn’t.Be selective about the people you follow up with.   Ask yourself “Is this person potentially a good referral source or a good prospect.”Organize the cards in three categories:

1.  Immediate follow-up.

2.  Possible follow-up in the future.

3.  No fit (people you can’t help or who can’t help you).

Immediately input the contact information for people in Category #1 and #2 into your database.  Add some notes to the contact record for each person:  where you met him or her, when, and key points about your discussion.

Schedule a reminder to follow up with the Category #1 folks in the next few days.  You may keep the Category #2 contacts in your database simply for future reference.  Don’t bother putting the Category #3 contacts into your database at all.After you’ve input the info, DISCARD ALL THE CARDS!  Do not leave the cards hanging around your desk.  They are not desk ornaments.

3.  Reach Out Deliberately—After some events I’ve attended, I’ve received a generic email like this:  “It was great to meet you at the XXX event.  I hope we meet at some point at another event.  Attached is some information about my services. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance to you.”That’s the Spray and Pray approach.  If you send your information to enough people, the theory goes, maybe someone will bite. Don’t count on it.If I want to follow-up with someone, I make a specific request to schedule a phone call.  My email reads something like this:

“Mary: 

I enjoyed meeting you at the XXX event on Tuesday.  I think we have some areas in common and might be able to refer one another business. 

I’d like to schedule a phone call with you on Tuesday.  If that works for you, please let me know some good times to call you.  Convenient times for me to talk in the next week are:  XXX, XXX, XXX.”

I give Mary a suggested next step.  Otherwise, she won’t know how to react.

I find phone calls a good first step in developing a relationship with a new contact.  A call takes less time than a meeting.  And it puts less pressure on either party.  If the phone call goes well, you can schedule a meeting.

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