Author: Greg Hewitt-Long – TableTop Networking
The top complaint among network marketers is that “networking doesn’t work for me”, and that could not be further from the truth. The solid truth about business networking is that follow-up is the key. Without a solid follow-up strategy, you’re doomed to fail or if you don’t fail, then you’re going to have a VERY slow networking experience, which will probably lead you to trot out the old “networking doesn’t work for me” line!
So how do you formulate a solid networking follow-up strategy? We can’t give you a perfect strategy without sitting down and knowing a lot more about you and your business, how you meet people, and who your power-partners are. But we can give you the top 5 tips for networking follow-up, and if you take those tips and built them into your follow-up strategy, you’re going to increase your networking success many-fold.
So what are these tips? Here they come, and they are in no particular order as they are all equally important…
- Practice the 3 P’s: Be Prompt, Proactive and Patient
By that, we mean setup a deadline for yourself to follow-up with your new contacts – be that 24 hours, or 72 hours, set time aside to do that follow-up and we suggest you do a quick email (from a template that you built ahead of time), the majority of the follow-up content can be from your template, but make sure you customize it. Most networking pros can spot a boilerplate email a mile away. Mention something you remember or you talked about, and be the one who sends out those emails, don’t wait for them to be sent to you (being proactive here).
Include in your suggested next step in networking, which might be a coffee, lunch, zoom or even phone-call. If you learned that your contact enjoys beer or cocktails, that might be appropriate, but remember you’re networking, not going on a date!
Finally, make sure that you are patient. This new networking contact probably has a busy work, social and personal life, as we all do. It might not work to get that second “get to know you” meeting in the next week but be patient and set a time to have that meeting.
- Engage in meaningful conversations with your networking contacts
By that we need to remind you that people do business with people they know, like and trust, right? You need to get to that place before business takes place and we’re only at the 2nd step here! If you are the kind of person who is only interested in the sale, rather than getting to know your contacts, how you can help them, refer them and to be in a mutually beneficial networking relationship, then perhaps you should join a “leads group”, because that type of business generation activity might be better suited to your style.
If you come into networking with an intention to forge strong, mutually beneficial relationships, then business networking is for you.
Make sure that you’re working towards a position of helping others, and we feel that your generosity with your time and efforts will be rewarded many-fold. If you continue to work towards helping others, coupled with continued education as to what your ideal clients are, then you should remain close to ‘top of mind’ when a situation to refer you comes up, plus the person doing the referral will talk about you in glowing terms!
- Help others without expectation of reward or recognition
In this day and age it’s so easy to help another person in their business with very little effort, it can be as simple as liking their Facebook page and engaging with their business posts (or Instagram, or LinkedIn etc).
You could plan a meetup or meeting and invite someone who you think could benefit from meeting some of the other attendees. If you do so, make sure you give them a personal introduction.
When attending another event, you can exchange details and refer to your networking contacts as your trusted partners in business, do an email introduction, provide their business card or e-card.
Remember always to be that connector. You’re in this for the long-haul. Networking is not a shark feeding frenzy, but rather a collaboration of like-minded people. You are trying to be part of the networking community, not a “hit it and run” merchant.
- Show gratitude and mindfulness often
A quick thank you email is quick and easy to shoot off but can get lost and is very easily dismissed or overlooked. An old-fashioned “Thank you Card” sent in the mail is hard to overlook and makes an impact. Your cost is a few minutes of your time, a stamp, and the tiny amount of time to drop it in a mailbox. This type of attention to detail is hard to overlook and will reward you much more than its actual cost.
Similarly, remember to thank your fellow networkers for referrals in public. Praise and recognition at the appropriate time in a networking situation shows that you value your connections and that they are valuable to you. It strengthens your position as a business networker or merit.
- Do not be too quick to dismiss someone you think might not be a good fit
You may already know this, but not everyone is a great fit for your network. That doesn’t mean you can’t refer them as opportunities arise though.
Do proper follow-up meetings with everyone you TOOK a card from and those that decided to take your card and want to follow-up with you. Don’t be too quick to dismiss someone who wants to meet with you. Why? Because you are not psychic, you don’t know WHY they took your card and wanted to follow up with you. Sure, they might be trying to sell to you, but do you know who they know?
Remember that not every lead for business comes from a ‘power partner’ because you don’t know if someone is married to or related to your next ideal client. Listen, educate, and rank your relationships, but don’t be quick to dismiss someone you think might not have a way to refer you. Hear them out. If you’re to be any good at networking, you’re going to do a lot more listening than talking, and it’s often hard to remember to listen more than you talk. Remember that you have two ears and one mouth, use them in the same ratio and make notes. Record them in your CRM or contacts app. File those details, so you can refer them if the need arises.
Often all it takes is one referral or contact to keep you ‘top of mind’ so that you can be referred in return.
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