Superwoman’s Networking Handbook: Follow Up
This post is all about effective follow up and relationship building. “Relationship building” sounds blase, but that’s what you’re trying to do so I’m not going to waste time trying to camouflage it. Like I always say, the most exciting thing about networking is you just never know who you’re going to meet, it can be your next great business partner, employer, hairdresser, real estate agent or your future husband…so always show up ready to dazzle the crowd in your own personal way.
If you’ve seen the last two posts: Superwoman’s Networking Handbook and Superwoman’s Networking Handbook: Elevate Your Elevator Speech, you’re already equipped with some great techniques for meeting new people (if not, go back and read those first, you’ll get more out of this post!).
The main problem many of us face once we’ve met new people whether it was at a specific networking function or a random social event-is we’re not sure HOW or WHEN to contact them.
How long should I wait?
Should I call?
Send an email?
Friend them on Facebook?
The answer is easy…handle this issue before it becomes an issue. When you’re about to part ways with the person, say something like, “I really enjoyed speaking with you and would love to connect again soon, what’s the best way to reach you?” (feel free to put that in your own words, personally I’d probably say something more along the lines of “So and so, I’m so glad I got to meet you today, we should definitely keep in touch, are you more of an emailer, a caller or a texter?”) BAM! Now, they’re either going to a) tell you exactly how to contact them or b)say something awkward that indicates they’re not really interested, which saves you the time. Win, win!
Another sticky issue can be meeting several people at once. Some of you can probably relate to sifting through a stack of business cards a day or two later and having to wrack your brain to remember who the people are. The solution here: immediately after the event, make notes on the back of people’s cards that will help you remember them. You know how your brain works, make notes that will best jog your memory, think in terms of something you had in common with them, what they looked like, where they were from. Details you think they’d be pleased to know you remembered are especially helpful when you reconnect. Showing you have an excellent memory is an impressive way to display your listening skills as well.
24-48 Hour Rule. I’m a huge proponent of making that follow up effort within 24-48 hours. When fear of appearing “too eager” creeps up on you and you begin to procrastinate, just stop it. In business and in life, I’d way rather risk giving people the impression that I’m too enthusiastic, or overly eager and excited, than the opposite–that I don’t care or I’m lazy. Besides, as you’ll see in a second, that first follow up message is going to be super brief anyway.
The message. The fact of the matter is that we live in a digitally dominated society so more than likely, you’re going to be sending an email. Danielle Laporte, one of my guru’s for business, life, writing, entrepreneurship and overall being a phenomenal human posted this blog: Qualified Requests: How to Ask for Stuff, and it’s perfect for this. Whether you’re requesting to grab a coffee or something deeper, click on that link and follow her tips, she is superb. (If you’re the type of person that loathes asking for things, you, especially need to read that post, it might change your life!)
The call. If the person said to call them, do it. Calls are a little more nerve wracking and since they can’t be edited and revised like an email, there’s a lot more room for it to take a wrong turn. Not for you though my vigilant reader, because you will be prepared. Here’s two important tips:
1. Be in a quiet place. You might be a great juggler of life’s tasks, but making the call while you’re walking down the street, wind blowing in the phone and cars buzzing by, or while the Starbucks guy makes your skinny vanilla latte and five other people place their orders, is not the way to show someone you’re interested in connecting with them and respect their time.
2. Make a few notes. However notes work best for you, in bullets, random scribble, full sentences, that’s up to you. I’m not saying script out your phone call, but do read Danielle’s blog and jot down what you’d like to cover in the conversation. Google the person, check out their website or company. Are you going to tell them you did all that research, probably not (after all the goal is preparation, not to be a stalker), but it gives you a better idea of who you’re dealing with. This also comes in handy in the event that you get their voicemail. Under no circumstances should you wing this call, even if you’re normally great at ad-libbing!
The nudge. I love the nudge, because people are so freakin’ busy they often don’t respond but that doesn’t mean they didn’t like you or they didn’t want to connect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nudged someone and get a response like this, “Thank you so much for reminding me! I totally meant to get back to you but your email got buried in my inbox.” If a whole week goes by and you haven’t heard from someone, go ahead and shoot a quick message (via their preferred method) along the lines of,
Hi, [their name], this is [your name], I sent you a message last week and just wanted to make one more small attempt to get in touch since you’re probably super busy. I know how many messages get buried in my inbox every week! [insert quick reminder of the request you made in the original message]. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you when you have a second.
Just a little nudge, you’re not being a pest, but at that point if you don’t hear back, it’s not because you didn’t make your best effort.
Like always, please leave your comments and feedback. We love it, and often learn from you too, which we absolutely appreciate. Have you used any of our tips? Let us know about those experiences also. Cheers to abundant networking success in 2011 🙂